The City of Boston issued a public apology after mistakenly sending a wide-reaching email that revealed a significant number of city workers’ vaccination and positive test status for COVID-19.
The human resources office sent an email out to around 100 city employees on January 18 that told the recipients that records indicated they were unvaccinated and had tested previously positive for COVID. Each recipient’s names and email addresses were visible on the email, publicly disclosing the confidential health-related information contained in the message.
The Boston Herald reported that the email said that each recipient had previously submitted evidence of a positive COVID test result. The message advised that because testing would not be allowed as an alternative as we advance, each recipient must become fully vaccinated to comply with city policy. Workers were further advised that they would be placed on unpaid leave if they refused to receive the vaccine.
After learning the error in addressing the message, the city sent another email saying, “We messed up.” The email indicated that the original message was sent “as a BCC” to respect privacy. The city’s apology said, “the wrong button got pushed.”
The deadline for employee vaccinations has been pushed back two times because of legal challenges to the city mandate, protests, and negotiations with labor unions representing city employees.
The city has also said that it takes employee privacy interests seriously and has reviewed its “practices and guidelines” to ensure a similar mistake doesn’t happen in the future. The message concluded with, “We will do better.”
Elissa Cadillic, who belongs to the Boston Public Library Workers Union, said she isn’t interested in an “oops, we messed up” email. She said that she is demanding accountability.