Can we distribute employee home addresses and phone numbers to all staff?

The executive director of our agency of 50 employees wants to distribute employee home addresses and telephone numbers to all staff. As a manager, I have concerns about invasion of privacy. Please advise.

Posted 05-11-2004

Ann Kiernan responds:

From a management perspective, this is a bad idea. From a legal perspective, it is more complicated. Believe it or not, there are court cases that say neither home address nor telephone numbers are “private.” That is because anyone could follow the employee home and see what their home address is, and phone numbers are listed in the phone book.

One exception to the general rule that this information is not private is where people have unlisted phone numbers, and another exception was found where an employee had a restraining order against another employee and she had moved and didn’t want the restrained employee to know her new address.

I would approach it from the perspective of “what is the legitimate reason for this?” Phone numbers might be needed by some people, surely not all. Home addresses??? It’s hard to imagine a legitimate reason.

Good luck.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.