We want to write a book about our employer—do we have to fictionalize it?

I and my colleagues are transitioning out of the workforce. We are interested in writing a book about our Affirmative Action, EEO, Diversity and Title IX experiences. We have worked in several states, but mostly in New Jersey. We would like to know what are our liabilities in discussing our cases? Must we fictionalize the employees, colleagues and the employers?

Rita Risser Chai replies:

Legally, there are several potential limitations on what you can write. If you signed a non-disclosure agreement or your employers had non-disclosure policies, these agreements and policies usually extend past the time of termination. Even if your employers did not have such agreements or policies, if you were in HR or management, a court could find an implied duty of loyalty that requires you to maintain confidentiality. In addition, the employees and colleagues themselves could claim an invasion of privacy. You also have to write only what is true—and your perception of truth may be different than theirs. To be safe, it is best to fictionalize everyone involved. Good luck with your book!

Posted 06-19-2018

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.