Thursday, August 31, 2017

That time Justin Bieber’s “L’il Biebers” caused a sex discrimination lawsuit

File this one under the category of I can’t make this stuff up. Apparently, Justin Bieber’s testicles are at the center of a recently filed sex discrimination lawsuit.

Bieber visited Northwell Health in Long Island in May, fearing he had twisted a testicle playing soccer. Now, New York employment attorney David H. Rosenberg tells Billboard that his client Kelly Lombardo, a former staffer at Northwell, was fired over accusations that she illegally accessed Bieber’s medical file during the May 18, 2017 visit. 
On the day in question … Lombardo heard a rumor that Bieber was in for a sexually transmitted infection. But she alleges she didn’t believe the STI claim and maintains that she never had access to the pop star’s files nor any contact with him at all. 
Rosenberg says that when Lombardo denied the accusations to her employers, they implied that as a young female, she must have been curious to know why Bieber was in the ER.

Three points to make:
  1. If you are in the medical industry, patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance. If an employee violates a patient’s HIPAA privacy rights, that employee should be fired, period.

  2. If you are not in the medical industry, the medical privacy of your employees is still of the utmost importance, and you should fire any employee who breaches this confidentiality.

  3. If you intend to fire an employee for a HIPAA violation or other breach of medical confidentiality, it is best to be able to demonstrate that the to-be-terminated employee received your policy on the importance of said confidentiality and the consequences for breaching it, and also received training on it.

Finally, as noted above, any employee can sue any employer for any reason. I would imagine this employer would have an electronic record of whether this employee did, or did not, access the Bieb’s records, which should determine the merit (or lack of merit) of the claim … unless this employer has a history of not firing male employees for HIPAA violations (an unlikely outcome).