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Confidentiality rules protect EAP counselors

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Employee assistance program (EAP) counselors are covered by the same privilege of confidentiality that's granted to licensed psychotherapists, says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the first time a circuit court had ruled on this issue.

The case: Oksana Oleszko wanted information from her employer's EAP to back up her lawsuit for sex and race discrimination, but the EAP refused, citing confidentiality reasons. The court backed up the employer. (Oleszko v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, No. 99-15207, 9th Cir., 2001)

States also are beginning to address the issue of EAP confidentiality, although their laws vary widely in the type of information covered. Among those with laws on the books: Connecticut, Indiana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Check your state statutes.

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