The German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, through its data protection authority, has fined a large drugstore chain for collecting and retaining employees’ health information in violation of Germany’s data protection law. The Mueller Group was fined €137,500 for routinely questioning employees about their health when they returned to work from sick leave, including asking for information about underlying health conditions. Germany’s data protection law precludes companies from collecting health data unless there is an urgent reason to do so, such as the possible spread of infectious disease or where the illness may be the result of working conditions.

TIP: If you have operations in Germany or other foreign countries, make sure that company practices are consistent with applicable local law.