No, Shelley Lewis from Dana Point California, that is NOT a HIPAA violation.

Hi! How are you all this evening? I have a fun rant for you. YAY!

Twice today I’ve seen uninformed people try and use HIPAA incorrectly as a privacy violation defense and I wanted to clear it up. Mostly because I’m in a mood today to piss people off (I’ve been banned from two local community groups today alone just for calling out fragile men on their white privilege) but also because I have to take a test on this stuff every single year in order to receive a paycheck and I always thought those tests would NEVER COME IN HANDY. I’m super stoked that after 14 years I’m finally getting to put this knowledge to good use!

The first example was a person saying that an employer asking if you have any medical condition is a HIPAA violation. This is not true. HIPAA has ABSOLUTELY no bearing on your employer asking you this question. The ADA does place restrictions on what your employer is allowed to ask you so it would be good to know what those laws allow both federally and at your state level, but this is NOT a HIPAA violation. It would be like a cop questioning you about why your homework isn’t done. Cops aren’t teachers and don’t give a shit about why your teacher assigned you 7 hours of math, Becky.

The second was Shelley Lewis from Dana Point California. I’m trying really hard not to be too divisive here but trust me when I say “lady” is not the term I want to use to describe her. So this lady didn’t want to wear a mask in the store saying, “I have a medical condition that I’m not allowed to wear a mask and I’m not required by HIPAA rules and regulations to disclose that.”

This Philip DeFranco video shows the lady speaking at 0:28 but watch the whole video to become a beautiful bastard.

So much to unpack here. First, the manager never asked what her medical condition is. Like, dude doesn’t care. Also, pretty sure he’s intelligent enough to know that it would violate the ADA, NOT FUCKING HIPAA. AGAIN, the ADA has guidelines for this situation that you should know if you feel like you’re too selfish to wear a required and life saving article of PPE.

Oh wait, no. Being a dick isn’t a valid disability so the ADA guidelines don’t actually apply to you either.

Second, in this situation if Shelley Lewis from Dana Point California did sue Gelson’s she’d have to prove in court that they violated her “disability” based on ADA laws, NOT FUCKING HIPAA LAW, so I’m like 95% certain this is the last we will hear from Shelley Lewis from Dana Point California in awhile. I mean, it’s going to be hard to track her down since she’s virtually erased her existence from the internet after trying to use her “disability” to become viral internet famous. Be careful what you ask for Shelley!

Anyway! In both situations the Karens claimed HIPAA law which does not apply to either case. Ada violations? Sure, I’ll give ya that one! You’re welcome!

And because I don’t want to leave you without some ACTUAL facts, here is a very dumb person’s guide to who HIPAA laws apply to. And by “dumb person’s” I mean I copied this off the HIPAA website after Googling “what even is HIPAA” which apparently these two internet/keyboard warriors forgot to do before word vomiting their temper tantrums.

As required by Congress in HIPAA, the Privacy Rule covers:

1) Health plans

2) Health care clearinghouses

3) Health care providers who conduct certain financial and administrative transactions electronically. These electronic transactions are those for which standards have been adopted by the Secretary under HIPAA, such as electronic billing and fund transfers.

HIPAA means that your healthcare provider is not allowed to give your protected health information to anybody EXCEPT those entities listed above (all used for billing purposes) without your prior consent. If Shelley Lewis’ psychologist walked up behind her while she was berating a man who is just trying to do his job and was like, “MY MAN! Let Shelley Lewis from Dana Point California in the store! She’s off her meds and I’ve diagnosed her with Raging Karen Syndrome.” THEN it becomes a HIPAA violation.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk, lets do this again soon!

Edited to add: If you want to link people a less rage filled diatribe on why mask issues are not HIPAA violations, here is a better article: