Can a former employer sue me for loss of revenue?

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Can a former employer sue me for loss of revenue?

I will try to be as brief but descriptive of the situation that I am in. I used to work contractual for a business. The work required me to travel from time to time to put on two day workshops. I performed under this contract for a little over 5 years. A couple months ago, I traveled for one of these workshops.Unfortunately, during the early morning hours I suffered a medical emergency which required hospitalization. I contacted my employer prior to when the workshop was to start that I would be unable to conduct the workshop. In my contract nothing is stated about any financial liability placed on me in a case of my inability to conduct a scheduled workshop. The only language regarding consequences regarding failure to conduct a workshop is that my employment would be immediately terminated. The employer then started to demand that I provide medical records that I was, in fact, hospitalized. It is my understanding that HIPPA laws prevent an employer from demanding or me supplying an employees medical records unless the request relates to medical leave, benefits, etc. I was not comfortable releasing my medical records to this employer due to failures in the past for them to keep confidential documents confidential. I provided them with everything that I could regarding my inability to facilitate the workshop. Yesterday, I received a letter from a law agency. This employer has decided to sue me for lost revenue. They are claiming that I breeched our contractual agreement by not supplying them with my medical records. They are demanding payment within 2 weeks. Do I have any rights in this situation? If an employer can sue a former employee for lost revenue, why wouldn’t every employer do that?

Asked on June 13, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are not an employee if you "worked contractual"--that is, if you were an independent contractor working pursuant to a contract. Contractors, not being employees, are not afforded many of the protections given to employees, and you cannot equate yourself to an employee for HIPPA or many other purposes. 
When you are a contractor working pursuant to a contract, if you violate the contract, you are liable for any losses your breach causes the other party. It does not matter if the breach was not your fault--you obligated yourself to do a certain thing, and are liable if it is not done. If you contracted to provide workshops but failed to do so, then your client--which, not "employer," is really the correct term for the person or business hiring you as a contractor--can sue you for any losses (like lost revenue) they suffered due to your breach.


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