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House Bill 579 — Medical information, employers

House Bill 579 — Medical information, employers

Parrish Miller
February 16, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 579 would protect an employee's personal medical information in some circumstances, while creating numerous exceptions. 

Rating: +1

Analyst Note: House Bill 579 is one of several bills introduced this session that deals with preventing or limiting the scope of vaccine mandates in Idaho. 

Over the last two years, governments at every level have engaged in a series of coordinated activities designed to coerce individuals and businesses to comply with the preferences of central planners and self-appointed experts of all stripes. Businesses have frequently been forced into threatening to dismiss employees if they do not comply with the state's ever evolving conception of "the science." Lost in this battle have been the rights of individuals — rights of privacy, self-ownership, and self-determination. What is the remedy? To protect individual rights, legislators must act. The Legislature must ruthlessly excise all medical mandates from society, whether through governments or employers involuntarily deputized by them. Individuals must be free to determine for themselves what is proper and medically necessary. Protecting individual liberty requires recognizing the fundamental right to make one's own medical decisions free from coercion or threats of retribution.

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

House Bill 579 would create Section 44-203, Idaho Code, to say that "an employee has a right to confidentiality and privacy concerning his personal medical information." If only the bill stopped there, it would be more valuable. Instead, it creates numerous exceptions that devalue the right nearly to the point of irrelevance. 

The bill says that employees can be required to disclose personal medical information to their employers for several reasons. They include: if the disclosure is deemed necessary for purposes of "the Americans with disabilities act, P.L. 101-336, and amendments to such act"; "the family and medical leave act, P.L. 103-3, and amendments to such act"; "Chapter 59, title 67, Idaho Code" (commission on human rights); or "other relevant federal or state law."

House Bill 579 further allows for one’s "right to confidentiality and privacy" to be violated if the medical information is deemed "necessary for the employer to determine whether the employee can perform the essential requirements of his position or of a new position to which the employee has requested a transfer or promotion and, at the time of or immediately before the hiring of the employee, the employer identified the specific personal medical information to be disclosed and the employee agreed to the release of such personal medical information."

The bill also allows that "the employer may require that such information be updated or kept current if the employee is made aware of the requirement at the time of or immediately before hiring."

In other words, if the employer decides that a vaccine mandate is an "essential requirement," it can still impose the mandate and require employees to reveal information about their vaccination status in the future. 

If indeed "an employee has a right to confidentiality and privacy concerning his personal medical information," the exceptions contained in this statute represent significant and intolerable violations of that right.

On net, this bill is still somewhat positive as it may serve to limit, to some small degree, the violation of individual liberty that is inherent in all forced revelations of personal medical information — including those permitted under the numerous exceptions in this bill. 


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