Rep. Graham proposal would protect worker privacy when filing PTSD and other industrial insurance claims

Rep. Jenny Graham, R-Spokane, introduced legislation today designed to protect the privacy records of workers filing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other industrial insurance claims from unnecessary exposure.

“There are firefighters, law enforcement and other professions where PTSD and other mental health issues are becoming more prevalent,” said Graham, who serves as the assistant ranking Republican on the House College and Workforce Development Committee. “We don't want people to refrain from seeking mental health treatment because they're afraid of private information spreading to employers, coworkers or others in their profession. This bill is a good first step in addressing privacy concerns with unemployment insurance claims.”

Graham's bill, House Bill 1909, limits the access employers have to certain private information to those “who have a need to know.” Her bill also requires employers to have a written policy regarding the storage of any files containing private information relating to injury claims, and levies a $1,000 fine for employers who violate the new rule.

“Concerns over sensitive information being leaked to coworkers originally came to me from firefighters struggling with PTSD,” said Graham. “We have firefighters and law enforcement personnel who deal with high-stress and highly-charged situations that can, and do, have an impact on their mental health. However, protecting private information from the office rumor mill is imperative across all industries and employment sectors.

“This bipartisan legislation will help get the ball rolling and show our workers around the state that we value their privacy and that we take their mental health concerns seriously,” said Graham.

HB 1909 was referred to the House Labor and Workplace Standard Committee where it awaits a public hearing.

The 105-day 2019 legislative session is scheduled to end April 28.


Washington State House Republican Communications