If my wife’s employer is demanding that we provide it a list of our investment account numbers (IRA, 401k, etc.), is this an invasion of privacy?

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If my wife’s employer is demanding that we provide it a list of our investment account numbers (IRA, 401k, etc.), is this an invasion of privacy?

Can it ask for this?

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There is no legitimate reason for this request, unless perhaps your wife works in the investment/security industry and they need to make sure there is no conflict of interest--though even there, information about your investments, and not the actual account numbers, should be all they need.

It is possible the employer simply doesn't understand what they do and not not have a legimate need for--has your wife asked the employer why they want this information? That is a good place to start. Unless 100% satisfied by any answer, do NOT even think about giving them this information, since if there is no satisfactory answer, someone in the employer may be looking to put this information to improper use. And even if you get a logical or reasonable answer, think carefully before giving out information that could let them access your accounts. (Usually, the only account information that is proper to give out is checking account information needed for direct deposit.)

The issue to be aware of is that if your wife does not have a written employment contract protecting her employment, she is an employee at will and could be fired at any time for any reason--even refusal to comply with an unreasonable request; and if you are an employee at will, it can be difficult to get your job back or get compensation for being fired, even if the employer was in the wrong. Therefore, while you do not want to give someone access to your assets, you do need to bear in mind that a criminal or  unreasoanble employer could fire your wife. If any action is taken against your wife for not providing this information, consult with an employment law attorney immediately.


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