Most of us believe our medical records are a private matter between us and our health care providers. But postal employees learned recently the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been snooping into their medical records, according to a suit filed by the Postal Workers (APWU) and Letter Carriers (NALC).
The unions filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Jan. 17. They say that beginning in 2006, the postal service’s OIG began surreptitiously seeking and obtaining the medical records of postal workers directly from doctors and hospitals that had provided medical services to postal employees.
The suit alleges that the OIG has routinely instructed medical providers that they must submit records to the OIG and they should refrain from notifying affected employees that the records have been requested by the OIG. It says the snooping continues and the OIG claims it has a right to review the records as part of oversight or investigatory activities.
The unions are asking the court to declare the practice illegal and issue an injunction against the OIG and the USPS. As APWU President William Burrus says:
I am outraged that OIG would use the tactics of a police state to investigate workers compensation or sick-leave cases. The OIG has no legitimate business investigating routine personnel matters. The use of these methods demands the strongest possible response.NALC President William Young vows NALC
will do everything in its power to reign in this outrageous conduct by the OIG. This federal lawsuit is the first step. If more is needed, we will take further action.
Richard Negri at Union Review wonders what would happen if the investigative shoe was on the foot of workers.
As this slimy, slippery and surreptitious practice continues, the OIG says it has every right to review the records as part of its oversight and investigatory activities…oh really?I had to repost this here, big thanks to Richard Negri and Mike Hall for getting the message out, my local postman couldn't believe it. So I'm gonna print it and leave it in the mailbox for him.
So, I began thinking about this: What if a group of workers, clearly invested in the well-being and longevity of their company or organization, found that their top brass was slacking. They became somewhat concerned as they all agreed they needed their jobs. Then, without saying a word to anyone, began poking at the medical records of said-top brass. What would happen? My educated guess is that we’d have a group working people carted off in chains, loaded into a paddy wagon and beamed out on the six o’clock news.