Is it an invasion of privacy if employer posts customer complaints about employees?

Every so often my boss will post complaints about us from patients. They are put on a bulletin board in the back for all employees to see. Is this legal?

Rita Risser replies:

Generally, yes. Your employer has a legitimate business reason to let employees know what sorts of complaints are being received, so they can improve their performance and meet the expectations of patients. Although it’s kind of rude for the employee names to be visible, there is no requirement to keep the names confidential.

One possible exception is if the employer is discriminating in which complaints are posted. It’s fair if all complaints, or all complaints of a similar nature, are posted. But if similar complaints about two employees are received, and only complaints about one employee posted, and the employees are different ages, races, genders, etc., that might be considered illegal discrimination.

The best practice for managers is to keep the complaints anonymous both ways – both the names of the patients and the employees.

Posted 07-12-2016

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:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.