OK, so your main question is "was she rude", not "is it OK to inquire in this manner." You contacted her through WA and IG. Before she got to know your query, she asked something like, "Is it important/urgent? You have tried getting in touch through WA and IG both?" You found this to be sarcastic. Why not consider it as a normal response? She truly didn't know why you were contacting her. If I ping my friend through both WA and regular text, that is recognized as an urgent or semi-urgent situation. Usually the friend calls back as soon as they see it, instead of messaging me back. " she replied you should be told by the office not to discuss anything about staff outside office." Rude? No. Clear? Yes. She in fact softened the observation by blaming the office also for the lapse. If someone makes an improper remark, the responses to the remark are also scrutinized. If she simply says, "I cannot comment on that." it can be seen as supporting such forms of inquiry. To be safe, she has to make it clear that such inquiries are not correct. Is there a polite way to say it, I am not sure. Any way it is phrased, it will rankle that you committed a faux pas. If it were an employee with no disabilities, I'd say she was more blunt than necessary. In this case, when the employee is hearing impaired, a point needed to be made. Your query was "do you know A from country X?" That does border on gossip. You did not ask, "What can we do to help X who is joining our organization?" Your query was to get the dish on A. Sorry. No, you are not understanding where you went wrong. You are not getting it. It is wrong to entertain preemptive concerns from subordinates about a hearing impaired new hire. It is just as wrong as preemptive concerns about an employee who's pregnant at hiring time. Curiosity is a close cousin of gossip. "Cope"????????? This is exactly the reason such inquiries are not right. People with disabilities do not want their colleagues to "cope" with them. No. The intentions were not pure. In the first post, you said "the staff were little upset as to the quality of support we may get down the line." This is exactly what people with disabilities must be facing at work. People doubt their performance even before they start work. If the differently able person speaks up about such comments, the comments are turned around and portrayed as "we only want to help you.. we want to accommodate you..." Such subtle workplace discrimination is difficult to identify and recognize. She wanted to do her little bit to stop such inquiries. So, she chose to educate you about it rather than a simple, "I can't discuss.." Even after multiple responses in this thread, I doubt you really get why this inquiry is wrong. Unless one sees the actual exchange, it is tough to say if she was sarcastic, rude... Pinging someone twice via social media for casual opinion about a hearing impaired new hire? If you yourself don't see how ... this is, you won't. ?? Personal grudge? Jealousy? No. She just had a strong reaction to an improper question.