PHOENIX — Phoenix Children’s hospital acknowledged Monday that it sent an internal email about the hospital’s COVID-19 safety protocols that mistakenly identified staff members who received COVID-19 exemptions or other special accommodations.
In a statement, the hospital said members on that email distribution list were intended to be blind carbon-copied, which would have hidden their email address from the others on that list, but that ultimately did not happen.
“As part of its COVID-19 vaccination program, Phoenix Children’s engaged in an extensive process to evaluate and provide qualified employees with medical and religious exemptions to its vaccination policy. For those employees who were granted accommodations, we developed appropriate workplace accommodations designed to protect all staff, visitors and our vulnerable patient population,” the hospital’s statement read.
“In the process of communicating internal safety protocols related to such accommodations, the employee distribution list for one email message was inadvertently visible, instead of blind carbon copying the recipients. Since learning of our administrative error, we immediately informed affected employees of the error, extended our sincere apologies and explained that efforts had been taken to avoid similar mistakes in the future,” the hospital said.
Joshua Black, an employment attorney in the Valley, said while upsetting for employees who were on that list, the error likely will not rise to being illegal or criminal.
“I think an employee is going to be hard-pressed to show what the damage was that was caused and to tie that back to any protected status as far as legal protection at work because remember, being vaccinated or not is not something that is protected at work,” he said.
He added that HIPPA does not cover these types of cases when they happen in a workplace where employers have a right to know such information.