By Peg Elofson
The claimant, a pharmacy tech, was discharged for violating the employer’s policy regarding confidentiality of patient information. She was disqualified from benefits upon a finding that she was discharged for misconduct connected with the work. She appealed. A hearing was scheduled before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The Employer’s Evidence: The employer’s witnesses testified that the claimant was given the employer’s policies at hire. One policy provided was to “maintain the privacy and confidentiality of patient information and pharmacy records” and not disclose confidential information to anyone. The policy provided that violation of it could result in immediate discharge. On the date of the final incident, the claimant was approached by a coworker who showed her a prescription, which had been filled for a former coworker. The prescription gave the claimant and her coworker information about the former coworker’s medical condition. The claimant later joined a conversation about the former coworker’s medical condition. As a result of those conversations, the claimant was discharged.
The Claimant’s Evidence: The claimant testified that she did not violate the policy. She stated that she was approached by her coworker with the prescription and did not inform anyone that the medication had been prescribed. When she joined the conversation already taking place, she was certain that the others had already been informed of the former coworker’s prescription by the current coworker.
The ALJ found that the claimant was discharged for misconduct connected with the work, and she was disqualified from benefits. The claimant violated the employer’s confidentiality policy because by joining in the break room conversation, the claimant did not maintain the confidentiality of the former coworker’s medical information. The claimant appealed. She claimed that she did not violate the policy as written because she did not disclose confidential information to anyone. She had just participated in conversations about it.
The Board of Review (BOR) disagreed with the ALJ’s decision and reversed it. The BOR found that the employer’s policy provided that the claimant should “maintain” the privacy of the prescription information. Since the claimant did not disclose any confidential information herself, she did not deliberately violate the policy. She was not discharged for misconduct connected with the work, and in-turn was allowed unemployment benefits.
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*Please remember: Unemployment Laws vary from state to state. The result in this case might be different from a case in your state.