Someone at Phoenix Children’s Hospital sent an email last Friday to about 370 employees who were approved for a medical or religious exemption to the company’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The email included information from Steve Schuster, Phoenix Children’s VP of Employee and Physician Relations, about a policy change taking effect Oct. 18.
Unfortunately, the email also openly included the names of those employees, thus disclosing their private medical information among co-workers.
An attorney for one of the impacted employees says the disclosure of his client’s private health information is just the latest act of outrageous corporate harassment against Phoenix Children’s employees.
“My client’s frustration with PCH’s harassment has now boiled over,” he told Arizona Daily Independent. “Her young family has suffered through months of turmoil caused by PCH’s tyrannical actions in attempting to forcibly vaccinate her. PCH’s leadership team has relentlessly harassed its employees into choosing between economic turmoil and complete abdication of their bodily autonomy.”
And the public disclosure cannot be undone, he pointed out.
“What is perhaps most disgusting, is that just a short time ago, the hospital was celebrating her and the hundreds of her unvaccinated colleagues as a heroes. In response to their heroism, PCH demanded that these employees provide it with highly sensitive information, which has now exposed to the world.”
Another attorney whose client is among the hundreds named in the email noted that this time the unlawfully disclosed information dealt with vaccination records. Next time it could be something even more personal, she warns.
“What if they were sending a communication to all employees identified by Phoenix Children’s as having been a victim of domestic violence, or in need of cancer screening, or even grief counseling?” she asked. “The lack of common sense protections cannot be flicked away as a simple clerical error, it shows the company does not have the appropriate protocols in place to protect its people.”
In July, Phoenix Children’s issued a statement confirming a company-wide vaccination deadline of Oct. 1 for its 6,500 member workforce, including volunteers and non-employee contractors. At the time, the hospital claimed that “a majority of our staff is already fully vaccinated” and that the company would push to have the remaining employees vaccinated before Oct. 1.
Employees were given the option to apply for a medical or religious exemption as required by state and federal laws. And the email gaffe shines a light on what steps employees must undertake if they were approved for an exemption.
“When your request for an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement was approved, you received a letter informing you that one of the conditions you must follow as an unvaccinated employee is that you update your health status in the Employee Portal (including your temperature) each day you physically report t a PCH job site,” the email reads.
The email goes on to announce that effective Oct. 18, any employee who fails to log the required information into the Employee Portal will be “charged with an occurrence.” A total of six occurrences in any three-month period will be considered excessive, and trigger formal corrective action.
One such corrective action is unpaid leave. Another is termination.