According to the story the woman has been alcohol free for over 14 years and imageslipped back and informed her employer she was going to seek treatment.  We don’t know how bad the problem was or if she had been drinking on the job and/or had been warned as that content is not in the story here.

What is stated is that she gave access to her medical records to her employer and their employee assistance program (perhaps a wellness program) and after she signed a second release that documented private therapy sessions she was fired after inquiring with human resources on the status of her therapy record release being added to the first set of records she released.  The doctors and hospital warned her NOT to release such items but obviously she felt the need to hopefully substantiate her issue and maintain here employment I might guess.  Doctors orders were correct here and think about this situation and I myself have been in doctors offices working to over hear employers call the office and ask for patient records, to which the answer is always no. 

The woman has now filed a lawsuit and I am curious to know if this employee assistance program included “wellness” in their offerings too.  Again without all the details about her alcohol issue it’s hard to tell, but the one thing she could have stood solid on was giving the release to her health records as it appears somehow the information contained was used against her along the line.  This is what makes wellness programs a bit gray at times too as how much information does the employer and potentially the health insurance company connected actually getting imageand would they in fact admit to seeing information about an employee on the sly if not officially shown? 

The odd part too about this is that the woman worked as a “risk manager”. 

Follow doctor’s orders and don’t do it as data could be combined with other information on file and when analyzed with some algorithmic formulas, it could paint a deceptive picture with formulas looking for “desired” results.  BD 

A little more than two years into her employment as a risk manager with a major construction firm, Lynne Kossow told her bosses in May 2009 that she had relapsed into alcoholism after 14 years of sobriety and would immediately seek treatment.

Against the advice of hospital staff and her treating physician, Kossow said, she signed releases giving Michels Corporation's employee assistance program broad access to her medical records.

Still, she was fired in June 2009, and now has sued Michels, claiming the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by terminating her on the basis of her condition.

Woman sues in claim she was fired after starting alcoholism treatment - JSOnline


  1. "We don’t know how bad the problem was or if she had been drinking on the job and/or had been warned as that content is not in the story here."

    I disagree. You don't have the facts. You're making conjectures because she was fired around the time that her employer received her medical records. Those two events are likely completely unrelated. She's got a drinking problem. Maybe she was going to be fired anyway.

    No competent HR department would receive medical records and fire on the basis. Unless, perhaps, the records made it clear that the woman was lying about her condition.

    So without knowing the facts, this entire post is ridiculous. Often times, employers require medical records for things like short-term disability.

  2. I also wonder as I have seen instances of certain individuals either get laid off or retire either immediately after a recordable incident (the employer seems to heavily penalize any employee that is involved in a recordable incident or a near recordable incident via unpaid suspensions and other disciplinary actions) the employee was involved, or by the end of the week after the wellness day took place on site.

    This same employer also said, if an employee is caught in a moving vehicle without wearing a seat belt law, even when the employee is NOT on the clock for the company, the employer will apply the disciplinary actions against the employee because of the fact the employer is paying the majority of the employee's medical expenses and the employee is exhibiting behavior that statistically drive up the medical costs for the employer.

    As such, I would not be surprised to hear of employers doing things like this either.


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