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Virginia Confidential Files

Posted by Tamara

How to maintain confidential information has presented some questions for Virginia employers and workers. Some people have concerns about a “two-lock system”, which is a term that is sometimes used in reference to keeping confidential data away from people that are not authorized to see it.

An important point is that no federal or state laws exist that deal with any specific lock systems that have to be used to store confidential files. Employers bear the responsibility of finding a way to ensure that all confidential information, including medical information, be kept away from those who have no right to see it. If one lock works sufficiently for an employer, that is fine. For some employers, it may require the use of five or six locks.

There have been some court rulings, as well as federal laws, that have rendered determinations as to how certain protected information must be kept. Specifically, data about any worker’s age, race, credit, disability status, background, religion, or medical condition must be kept in files that are confidentially held.

What this means is that such files must be kept locked away so that other employees, as well as the public, do not have access to them. The primary idea is to make sure that even workers who have a legitimate need to know something have very limited access to confidential information. This makes it less likely that a manager or supervisor might wind up discriminating against a worker.

Confidential files require more protection than merely being kept in unlocked files that reside in unlocked offices or storage rooms. It would allow too many people easy access.

One of the most used methods of file storage is to keep them in cabinets that always remain locked, and keep the cabinets in locked offices.

Some employers make it a requirement that confidential files are never to be left on a desk, even for short periods of time. Their policy is that the files need to be stored at all times unless they are being actively used.

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