Age Difference Case Over HIPAA Violation: National Court Settles in Favor of Main Line Health

July 14, 2018


In 2016, Radnor, PA-based Main Line Health Inc., dismissed a worker for breaching Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Laws by seeing the private records of a co-worker without permission on two different times.

In such cases, when staff or patient records are retrieved without formal authorization, workers face punitive action which can include sacking. Gloria Terrell was one such staff member who was fired for breaching company rules and HIPAA Laws. Main Line Health fired Terrell for “co-worker prying.”

Terrell offered an internal application over her sacking and claimed she retrieved the records of a co-worker to find a contact phone number. Terrell said she had to call the co-worker to make certain a work shift would be protected, and this was a genuine business reason for the access because she couldn’t get the telephone list with workers’ contact numbers.

After firing Terrell, Main Line Health employed a considerably younger individual to fill the vacant role. Terrell started a lawsuit against Main Line Health in September 2016 suing age discrimination. In the lawful action, Terrell asserted Main Line Health had suffered similar prying cases earlier and failed to apply the same punishments for a younger member of the workforce. Terrell asserted she was conscious of three younger co-workers who were not sacked after the discovery of HIPAA breaches. Nevertheless, Terrell might not verify those claims and all three staff members refused they had been involved in any incorrect retrieving of patient records.

Main Line Health said that proper training on HIPAA Rules and company policies had been given to staff on multiple occasions and that there were policies in place in relation to the protection of confidential employee and patient information. Those policies clearly state disciplinary action will be applied if company policies and HIPAA Laws are infringed, which might include instant release from service.

Main Line Health claimed Terrell was sacked for a genuine, non-discriminatory reason, and as the case didn’t raise a triable problem, Main Line Health was allowed to a swift decision.

Terrell’s litigation (Gloria Terrell v. Main Line Health, Inc., et al – Civil action No. 17-3102) was submitted to a national court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. U.S District Court Magistrate Richard Barclay Surrick lately approved Main Line Health’s summary decision, ruling Terrell didn’t prove a practical age bias claim.

Judge Barclay Surric wrote “In short, except her own personal views, Plaintiff has offered no proof from which a rational factfinder might decide that Defendant’s submitted reason for dismissing her lacks credibility. She has offered no proof to back a finding of bias. Even though one might have objections concerning the wisdom of firing a worker with Plaintiff’s experience and duration for electronically retrieving a telephone number that had already been made available to co-workers in paper shape, it’s not for this Court to sit as a super-personnel division that re-examines a unit’s business decisions.”