Santa Clara County Sued After Employee's Medical Information E-Mailed to Listserv

Imagine having all of your personal medical information e-mailed to your coworkers by mistake. That is what one Santa Clara County employee said happened to her.

Now the woman is suing the county for violating her privacy.

Ms. Williams, who requested for NBC Bay Area to not publish her first name, has been on medical leave since she received a letter, which said her medical history was e-mailed to a county listserv by mistake. Williams said because of that mistake she has lost her livelihood.

"It's just been hell," she said.

Williams said she is seven years away from retirement after working for Santa Clara County for 17 years. Now she said she cannot face her coworkers in the social services department.

"I'm afraid they'll make fun of me, that they're talking about me. 'Don't hire her because she has this condition or that condition,'" Williams said.

In June, Williams received a letter from the county notifying her that her personal and medical information was accidentally e-mailed to 100 of her coworkers, including her supervisors. The letter also said actions were taken to delete the e-mail and employees will be retrained to properly protect sensitive information.

"The medication I'm on, my diagnosis, I don't want everyone to know that," she said. "That's not anyone's business, but mine."

Williams and her lawyer, Charles Bonner, have filed a lawsuit against the county seeking damages for the privacy violation.

"We can't give her back what has been taken. What we can do is to compensate her, have the county compensate her in a fair way so she can get a job in another environment," Bonner said. "But she can't go back to that environment."

Calls to the county seeking comment were not returned Friday.

Contact Us