In EEOC v. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (2012), a former employee alleged that his former employer revealed his medical information to prospective employers in violation of the medical record confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq. The key issue for the Seventh Circuit was whether the medical information alleged to have been revealed by the former employer was obtained from “medical examinations and inquiries” of the former employee as set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d). In holding that the information was not obtained from “medical examinations and inquiries,” the Court found that the former employer had no duty to treat its knowledge of such information as a confidential medical record and affirmed the district court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the former employer.
In reaching its conclusion, the Court found that the word “inquiries” did not refer to generalized inquiries, but instead only to medical inquiries. The Court also explained that other courts have required – at a minimum, that the employer already know something was wrong with the employee before initiating the interaction in order for that interaction to constitute a 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B) inquiry. Because the former employer did not have any such knowledge in this case, its communication with the former employee was not an inquiry for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B).