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I'm 17 in the U.S. (California) and have found an internship with a software company. This is the second internship I've had, and have been employed over the summer once before.

They've asked me to sign on through a temp agency. In the agency's new hire paperwork, they have asked me to release all medical records. When I go to release personal information, I mentally tabulate all the information I expect to release, and seriously question the necessity of anything that isn't on that list. I did not expect to be required to release medical records.

I've called the agent, and they've assured me that this is a mandatory step of the new hire process, and I cannot come in without it. He has told me that this is required by workplace insurance to protect against litigation due to workplace accidents. However, my parents, brother, and friends can't recall a time they've ever had to release medical records to start a new job.

Additionally, they are insisting that I have the capacity to release my own medical records and can legally sign the form, even though I know perfectly well that I can't because I'm a dependent under 18.

I am fully prepared to decline the position if my suspicions are correct and this is not a reasonable request.

Should I be suspicious? What action should I take?

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Are they offering you health insurance? Releasing records to an insurance provider is normal. Directly to the employer seems extremely suspicious. Also - you are correct, in CA you have to be 18 to sign a contract. It's different state-by-state, though. –  Wesley Long Jun 18 at 19:59
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It's your call, but this sure doesn't pass the "Smell test," IMO. –  Wesley Long Jun 18 at 20:05
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There is no legitimate need to determine existing conditions since excluding preexisting conditions is illegal (as is the employer's request for your medical records). –  R.. Jun 19 at 3:02
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All I can say is that I cannot recall EVER releasing medical records to an employer or prospective employer, and I've been in the workforce for over thirty years. –  John R. Strohm Jun 19 at 13:46
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Before declining over this highly-suspicious request, you might try to find out if there's another temp agency the company works with. If the company is unaware that the temp agency asks for this, you'd be doing them a kindness to let them know. –  Monica Cellio Jun 19 at 15:57

1 Answer 1

up vote 52 down vote accepted

This is indeed a bizarre request. Unless the job you will be doing requires some sort of health-related qualification (such as lifting 75-pound boxes or being free of tuberculosis) they don't have any need for your medical records.

They might also need access to your records if you will be working in a remote location (an offshore drilling rig or wilderness camp, for example) where the only readily accessible medical care is furnished by your employer.

Other than that, well....

https://www.privacyrights.org/employment-background-checks-jobseekers-guide#3

If it's for health insurance purposes the release should be to the health insurance organization, not the employer. ACA wiped out pre-existing condition limitations.

You could ask the person who has hired you for your internship, "Sorry to bother you with this, but my parents want to know why your temp agency demands that they (your parents) release my medical records. Could you explain?" Your hiring manager will probably need to ask her human resources person this question.

It's probably a waste of time to ask the temp agency that question.

You're obviously prepared to walk away from the offer if they insist on getting this release. If you do that, be sure to tell your hiring manager, "I'm disappointed; I hoped to work with you, but your temp agency was making this very sketchy demand for personal health information. My parents and I cannot and will not comply with that demand. Again, I'm disappointed."

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And being 17 he can easily walk away. I feel very sorry for the people who are desperate for a job and don't have time to walk away if they want to pay the mortgage this month. I hope he follows up on this complaint and gets these people straightened out. –  corsiKa Jun 18 at 23:41
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+1 on informing your employer. According to HIPAA the request is potentially illegal (see hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/summary ) so you actually do your employer a big favor alerting them to this bizarre behavior. –  Hilmar Jun 19 at 12:11
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+1 for providing a useful "I have to walk away" message to use. –  Bobson Jun 19 at 14:31
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@Hilmar, HIPAA doesn't cover employment records. That's one of the problems with this request: it lets protected health information leak out from under the bubble of HIPAA confidentiality. –  user987654 Jun 21 at 1:30

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