As an employer, is it legal to contact an employee’s doctor’s office to verify a doctor’s note that said employee gave to me?

UPDATED: Jan 8, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Jan 8, 2012Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

As an employer, is it legal to contact an employee’s doctor’s office to verify a doctor’s note that said employee gave to me?

Is it illegal to contact a employee’s doctor to verify a doctors note given by said employee?

Asked on January 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Is it illegal for the employer to contact the doctor and ask about the note or indeed about a medical condition? No--anyone may essentially ask anyone anything, and employers are allowed to seek to verify medical or sick leave, restrictions on work, etc. However, asking doesn't always mean you'll get an answer, as per below.

2) Can the doctor verify the note or the condition? The doctor can probably say something like, "Yes, I wrote John/Jane Doe a note dated 12/16/11 for his/her employer." However, it is almost certainly the case that the doctor may not actually discuss the patient's medical history or condition otherwise, without the patient (the employee) instructing the doctor to do so--doctor-patient confidentiality and various laws about medical privacy limit what a doctor can or should say about patients without their explicit permission or consent.

So you can contact the doctor; you can't force them to say anything if they don't want to; and the most you can reasonably expect to get from them is a verification of the fact that they provided a note.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption