Is it okay for CEO to ask us to discuss in team meetings if we had abuse or mental illness?

The CEO/owner wanted our team to exercise our bonds by discussing openly if we had abuse or mental illnesses, and wanting to know our failures in life. Mind you, I did not disclose information. Thoughts?

Rita Risser Chai replies:

This is completely illegal, and kind of sick and creepy. Information like this is inherently private, and asking for you to reveal it could violate general privacy laws. In addition, it likely violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and your state’s laws protecting confidential information. On top of that, it’s stupid. How is this supposed to build team bonds? Note to managers: if you want to engage employees to open up, make it work related. For example, you could ask employees to remember how they felt on their first day of work at your company, or what they like about their current job.

Posted 07-18-2017

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.