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I was recently up for a disciplinary as I failed a drugs test for cannabis. When the company received the scores back from the testers, they published the three peoples scores on each of the letters we received. While I was on suspension a colleague from work was telling other staff when we would be receiving a letter. I was told this and that letter showed up the next day so he was correct. To add to this, one of the agency staff saw my other colleague who was also on suspension and told him he knew our scores for the positive test results. He was correct also. I know this is breach of confidentiality, but how serious is it. I want to make the complaint but don't know if I want him sacked if it warrants it. Can someone tell me how serious this is. The person blabbing was a manager who was sitting in on the disciplinary process, being trained.

closed as off-topic by gnat, nvoigt, scaaahu, IDrinkandIKnowThings, O. Jones Dec 16 '18 at 19:22

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    You will need to ask a lawyer or at least add a location tag. – nvoigt Dec 15 '18 at 10:09
  • "While I was on suspension a colleague from work was telling other staff when we would be receiving a letter." - What prompted this colleague to comment on such a letter? Perhaps it was you who volunteered information first in this case? Then there is no breach of confidentiality; you shared the information willingly. – Brandin Dec 15 '18 at 10:19
  • Thank you for all the replies, they where welcome. I think I have what I need, I will only bring it up if I need it. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 11:09
  • Revelation of a positive drug test result is not a violation of confidentiality. In fact there are some laws requiring mandatory reporting, e.g. if you operate a truck and go to another trucking company they HAVE to tell them. Employer drug tests are not at all like medical/diagnostic tests in this respect. However, the company that administered the test should have had you sign a release form. – John Wu Dec 15 '18 at 23:03
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You've been disciplined for using drugs and you want to take a few stabs on the way out.

You may want to rethink your priorities, you have some major and immediate problems that this will not fix or help with, and will add at least one bitter enemy to your tally.

  • Can you not read @killis my original post says one thing, I said it was a woman who said sue them. I would rather not do that. I'm only looking for leverage to keep my shitty job untill I can find something else. I get how it works regards stabbing people in the back, I just don't think the trainee manager does. Hence me saying I don't want him sacked. He is no friend but if his mistake helps me keep my job then hey ho. Merry Christmas. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 10:45
  • This would have been better as a comment because it doesn't answer the question. A breach of confidentiality is a breach of confidentiality regardless of the circumstances. At what level of egregiousness do two wrongs make a right? – Blrfl Dec 15 '18 at 12:12
  • It's his job to stick to a process as it is mine to follow this process & accept its outcome. If I keep my job, I'll let him know I'm not happy with what he did & put him on the back foot. If I lose my job I will tell the company & leave it at that. But I will let my rep know before I get my decision is the best solution I think. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 13:41
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    @Simpson: In your other comment, you said your wife wanted you to sue. Now you leave a comment ("I said it was a woman who said sue them.") where the only relevant fact about her advice is her gender? I seriously hope you don't use that as an excuse to dismiss her opinions, so why would you present it that way to us? – Ben Voigt Dec 15 '18 at 13:57
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    This isn't the sort of leverage that would make your drug test results disappear. It would need to be much higher level for that. It does happen, but not like this. All you would accomplish is making an enemy and drawing more negative attention to yourself. When you start playing ruthless games like that you better watch your back... you might see your drug test results anonymously given to your local newspaper and published, or worse. Don't assume you're the only vindictive, ruthless a-hole in town...and everyone else will play nice. Things like this can escalate real quick. – Kilisi Dec 15 '18 at 15:11
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Clear breaches of confidentiality in my book.

A lawyer will be able to tell you how serious and what courses of action you have.

I suggest to consult legal counsel before taking further steps.

  • Thank you for your response. I have a union representative, who has been with with me. He knows about the administrative breach on paper. But as there is 2 unions, GMB & Unite – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 3:19
  • Both of us have a piece of the information. My rep has not been that helpful. Policy says we shouldn't be speaking. I'm back in Monday for a decision and as there is no HR attending I'm hopeful for a final written warning for a first offence of any sort in 12 years employment. Its a new zero tolerance policy that was not explained properly as other employees had failed tests but warned & received councilling. My rep says it may be the administrative breach that gets me off. As this in new info and its the weekend, I can't see my rep til Monday. I just thought I would have a look online. Thanks – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 3:57
  • I hate the job but it's money & it's local. The wife is saying sue them if you can. As they owe half the workforce on site just over 2k in back pay each, unions have been fighting this for 3 years now. All other major companies have paid out but this is a French company in the uk fighting it. They have 40 sites around the country so this is going to cost them. My mitigation was based around money & family problems but I haven't a clue really on the possible outcome. Like I said hopefully the first breach should get me off with my mitigation, if not I'm throwing the other 2 at them. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 4:12
  • @Simpson in that case I think wait out their reaction. The benefit of a lawyer is, they have no active stake in the situation, they're an independent entitiy, you can talk to them anytime you like and they know the ins and outs of cases like yours.Since you're unhappy anyways and have reason to I suggest to prepare yourself for a lawsuit against the company.Maybe even a class action kind with your colleagues who have been "outed as druggies" as well.Oh and definitely start hunting for a new job.Sounds like the climate went down the drain and the company is in financial trouble.Good Luck to you – DigitalBlade969 Dec 15 '18 at 4:21
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    @Simpson I am not really sure you want to sue the company unless the drug test result is false positive. You need to put your future employability into consideration. Do you believe any company will hire a drug user who sued his former employer for breach of confidentiality (regardless you win the law suit or not)? – scaaahu Dec 15 '18 at 5:29
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I am not a lawyer. I don't think HIPAA applies here. You (likely) consented to drug test as part of your employment agreement. It is a violation of confidentiality but I don't think it is criminal. If you want to sue consult an lawyer. Also consider they could fire you.

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    Yes I consented to the test. I did not consent to the scores being public knowledge or anything else. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 9:42
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    Consult a lawyer and stop smoking weed. – paparazzo Dec 15 '18 at 14:10
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This would only be a confidentiality requirement if it happened outside of work.

If you reported to work with drugs in your system, then you are the one who made it a work issue. Once your behavior starts affecting project deadlines, quality, or especially if it affects safety (for example if you were operating machinery while under the influence) then there is a legitimate business reason to tell the people your choices have affected.


The drugs play on your emotions and are making you blind to their effect on your job. I've seen this in a close friend, he became combative and unproductive, but he felt the opposite because he was experiencing the drugs, not the situation.

For that matter, (perfectly legal) medicine that I take for allergy relief slows my mental processes and impedes my focus. Must cost my employer a significant amount. My bosses balance this against the work I do and determine I still provide them with significant value even at reduced productivity.

If you any hope of convincing your employer your good outweighs the bad, they're going to have to be able to discuss and share your situation with coworkers, to make the best use of your efforts. Demanding a right to confidentiality makes it impossible for your team to work with you. So you've already seen the outcome of that: zero-tolerance policies. When it becomes legally dangerous to give someone a second chance, the policy will be no second chances. Going to court is expensive for a company, even if they prevail because they can show a legitimate business reason.

Finally, even if your accusation plays out in court and finds that this supervisor blabbed too much, it's not going to help you. The supervisor might pay the price, and you might save some of your coworkers from a privacy violation in the future (assuming the supervisor has loose lips on other subjects too). But you're still fired, the company has solid evidence to back up their decision.

  • Even before an outcome has been reached. No absenteeism, loss in job efficiency in fact not been reprimanded for anything at all in 12 years service. You would think he would have to keep quiet until the process is finished & an outcome has been reached. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 13:47
  • To be honest I'm sorry I posted the question now, it has been blown out of proportion. I asked if he was in the wrong for blabbing. I didn't mention lawyers in my first post. I mentioned in my 2nd my wife said sue them. I meant later on when I said woman as sounding typical. I sort of got my answer on the first post back. Then people say stabbing in back on way out. I said is this serious enough to lose his job over which I'd rather not do. I had a few puffs of a spliff for the 1st time in about 20 years, OK I'm paying the price I'm hardly a druggy but ppl on here blowing it up. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 19:17
  • You all sound like a bunch of lawyers, reading into it too much. Just go by the original post. Like I said if I keep my job then end of, I will mention to him I know he blabbed. If I lose my job I will tell HR what he has done & I'm not happy about it, and end of. No solicitors or union case. That is why I was asking if I mention it can he lose his job. I'm not that cold. I was thinking for leverage but at what cost. That's basically it. So ppl on here telling me my error, lawyers this stabbing that. Don't bother answering back as bookmark deleted never coming back. Another lesson learned. – Simpson Dec 15 '18 at 19:32

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