Thursday May 4, 2006

Need To Know

The following Question and Answer arrived in yesterday's Fair Measures newsletter.

What do you think? What would you do if you were the person asking the question? the therapist? another employee?

Question

Can an employer force an employee to put personal information on the corporate internet website? The links to individual staff are found on our "About Us" pages. The CEO wants full name, background, personal stories of travel and volunteerism, general family information, etc. The main issue is we have a part-time employee who is also a therapist and she is concerned that the personal information is not appropriate for her to have public and searchable as it is a detriment and possible danger to her in her other work. I agree with her. The CEO however, wants everyone to write and publish their personal story.

Thanks!

Rita Risser replies:

Legally speaking, the right of privacy only goes to information that is considered private. For example, if all of this information is available anyway, a court would say it's not protected. And this goes pretty far. Courts have said that a home address is not protected because anyone could follow you home and find it out. Who knows if courts today would follow that line of reasoning, but there are decades of court decisions going that way.

From a practical point of view, I would hope that she could just write out her concerns to the CEO and he would back off. If not, then if I was her, I would just make something up as a personal story and put it up there.

Good luck.

[© Copyright 2006, Fair Measures Inc.. This Q&A has not yet been posted online.]


An interesting related question was posted in Dec 2000:
How much personal information is the boss entitled to?

Need To Know ( in category Random Thoughts ) - posted at Thu, 04 May, 10:36 Pacific | «e»

Comments

I tend to analyze why people do the things they do. It's a HR thing - I do this to try to understand the other side of the equation (or the many sides).

Possibly the CEO wants to create a "human" atmosphere so that interested customers/clients/shareholders are reminded that it's "people first" at this company. However, his tactic may be a bit misguided.

It's certainly OK to put an "about us" section on the website with a professional resume and a few personal tidbits - if the employees are comfortable with that. If I was the therapist, or any employee at this company, I'd probably make vague references to my personal background.

It doesn't really matter if she's a therapist - some people are not comfortable divulging personal information to their co-workers. And in this day of identity theft - many people are not comfortable publishing their personal information anywhere.

I wonder what their HR Manager has to say about this? I wonder if they even have an HR Manager?