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Worker Health Data Stolen in Covid-19 Scheme, Whistleblower Says

Aug. 27, 2020, 5:20 PM

Steel processor SPS Companies Inc. was sued in Missouri federal court by a former employee who says he was fired for blowing the whistle on the company’s alleged misappropriation of confidential worker health data in an effort to mitigate liability for employee exposure to Covid-19.

Micah Morrison says that after he was selected to serve on SPS’s Covid-19 task force, he received an email showing that the company had secretly obtained the confidential health data of about 650 employees and their families, including the identities of employees with preexisting conditions. According to Morrison, SPS’s goal was to limit its liability by targeting workers at high risk from the virus and urging them to “stay home and use their personal and vacation leave.”

Morrison says he reported this conduct—which he says violates federal health, benefits, and disability law—to his superiors and was terminated shortly thereafter. His eight-count complaint, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri accuses SPS, subsidiary Steel Ventures LLC, and certain executives of violating the Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws.

Causes of Action: Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act, Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, ERISA, ADA, negligence, and intrusion upon seclusion.

Relief: Judgment in an amount proven at trial, punitive damages, interest, costs, and expenses.

Response: SPS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC represents Morrison.

The case is Morrison v. SPS Cos., Inc., W.D. Mo., No. 5:20-cv-06129, complaint 8/26/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com