Can an employer release information to an employee’sparent about their sexual orientation?

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Can an employer release information to an employee’sparent about their sexual orientation?

Employee is 23 years old and mother called HR requesting information and updates on employees situation.

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, it's unclear why the HR rep would have information about the employee's sexual orientation at all. While neither federal nor MO law specifically protect sexual orientation in employment, 1) having this information, if negative action is taken against the employee, could in some circumstances trespass on a protected category, like sex or gender; and 2) it's not easy to see what relevance this has to the employer.

Second, since it's not unreasonable that someone might want to keep his or her sexual orientation quiet or private, it could give rise to a legal claim for violation of privacy if the information is revealed. Also, the company has NO obligation to give the employee's mother any information, and is ALWAYS better off not disclosing information about its staff except when it has to. For these reasons, while it's not certain that the company could not release the information, it is very unwise to do so, and since the company doesn't have to, it shouldn't.

 


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