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Veteran Loses Privacy Case Over HIV Disclosure

ST. LOUIS (CN) - The 8th Circuit granted the Department of Veteran Affairs' motion to dismiss a privacy lawsuit brought by a veteran who claimed Dr. Samuel Hall improperly told a union representative that he's HIV positive and has smoked marijuana in the past.

Plaintiff John Doe is a veteran who formerly worked at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center as a housekeeping aide. During the hiring process, he revealed his condition on forms he submitted to the center's Employee Health Service.

Doe told Dr. Hall, a former director of the EHS, that he was HIV positive and said he smoke marijuana to increase his appetite.

Doe's supervisor arranged to have Hall meet with Doe about his frequent absences. Doe said he "felt apprehensive" and invited his union supervisor to come along, but allegedly warned Hall not to disclose any of his medical information at the meeting. Hall, who denies Doe ever told him not to say anything, brought up both the HIV status and drug use.

The appeals court ruled that the Privacy Act was meant to protect agency records, and that Doe's medical information was not considered a "record ... within a system of records" under the Act.

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