Return to our Home page Search
Click here for the hotel and hospitality news from around the globe Hotel, Travel and Hospitality Articles Videos and in-depth Interviews
CONCIERGE DESK
Read more now
Read more now
Read more now
Managing Privacy Concerns In A Modern Workplace.
By Lawrence Sorohan
Thursday, 14th June 2012
 

Privacy can be an elusive goal; in today's world, the Internet allows us an almost unlimited access to information, yet, the more information that becomes available, the more the insatiable desire grows for still more detail on a moment's notice.

Unless your name ends in "ardashian," however, you likely still crave some semblance of privacy. The crossroad between these competing two forces can create issues for employers in today's society.

What A Tip – Can't Wait To Show You

Recently, a waiter in North Carolina learned the difficult lesson that not all details of a restaurant's business (or a superstar's life) should be considered open to the world. Former Super Bowl MVP, and current quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning visited a restaurant called The Angus Barn in Raleigh, N.C. After eating, Manning left a $200.00 tip on a $739.58 check. He was so generous that the tip came on top of an added 18% gratuity. He did so using his credit card.

Apparently, the fact of receiving a tip from Manning was too much for the waiter to keep to himself. The waiter, identified as "Jon," took a photograph of the restaurant's copy of the credit card receipt and sent it out on twitter. As former Congressman Anthony Weiner can attest, such action does not come with any real means to control the distribution of information.

In the 1980's there was once a shampoo commercial that illustrated how information could quickly be passed to multiple people. The tag line went, "I told two friends, then they told two friends, and so on and so on…" In the social media/Facebook age, the phrase needs updating to "I told two thousand friends, then they told two thousand friends, and so on and so on…" Jon's message played out this way.

Eventually, the picture of the Manning receipt wound up on numerous gossip and sports websites. Unfortunately for Jon, word came back to his employer as well. Understandably, The Angus Barn did not share Jon's belief that Manning's private information was fit for public fare. Jon was fired. A company manager was quoted as saying, "The Angus Barn has a long tradition of serving celebrities major and minor, and it's a strict policy of the restaurant that their private dining experiences stay private."

The Manning episode illustrates a problem for restaurants and any other employers that accept private information from customers. It only takes a cell phone and twitter account for such information to become a national story. Initially, the events raise the obvious concern of dissemination of credit card information at a time of rampant fraud. In addition, employers must be concerned about other state laws designed to protect privacy.

When Is The Line Crossed?

In many states, (Louisiana is one), the law recognizes various claims for invasion of privacy. These may include: intrusion upon solitude or seclusion, and public disclosure of private facts. These causes of action are aimed at protecting against unreasonable publicity of one's private life. In addition, the laws often recognize claims for actions such as false-light privacy. Such laws prohibit dissemination of information that puts another in a "false light." Finally, most states also recognize a claim for appropriation of another's name or likeness without consent.

As can be seen from the titles, these claims differ from the more widely-known claims of defamation of character or slander. In most of these cases, liability does not depend upon proof that the information is false. In other words, even dissemination of truthful information can potentially lead to legal liability.

The good news for employers is that the standards for proving such claims are strict. But this good news does not mean that an employer should act without regard to the claims. Any employer who believes the Manning event is unique need only go online to be dissuaded. Case in point, there are food-themed websites that specifically post strange things put on receipts.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Complete containment of customer information may be next to impossible in today's society. But that doesn't prevent you from taking steps, such as enacting policies, designed to maintain privacy. The question thus becomes whether enactment of policies is a good thing. Anyone who has ever spoken to a lawyer should know the answer – it depends.

Clearly, an employer cannot have a policy that covers every situation. Employees will inevitably find ways of introducing novel behaviors into the workplace. Further, the law does not prohibit an at-will employer from imposing discipline even in the absence of a policy expressly prohibiting the conduct at issue. Nonetheless, some policies are not merely a good thing; they are a virtual necessity. By way of example, a good non-discrimination and no-harassment policy should be enacted by all employers.

For businesses that routinely obtain private customer information, an effective privacy policy is a good idea. Many employers in the retail business now prohibit employees from using cell phones or similar electronic devices while working. They also routinely enact policies that expressly prohibit the dissemination of customer information.

An effective policy should warn that violation could lead to discipline up to and including discharge. It should also be designed to teach an employee as well. That is, it should clearly spell out what type of conduct is prohibited. While it would appear that most functioning adults should know better than to photograph and disseminate credit card information, other situations may be spelled out in the policy, particularly those that may be somewhat unique to the employer.

Even the best policy is worthless, however, unless evenly enforced. And the enforcement should always be documented. Sporadic enforcement or failure to document all infractions can cause an employer headaches as well. Employees routinely attempt to claim uneven enforcement in discrimination actions or simply when complaining about their job.

Unlike his character portrayed in a Saturday Night Live skit, Peyton Manning turned out to be a pretty good guy. Had Jon had the sense to accept his generosity without publishing the credit card receipt, he may still have his job to go along with extra cash. If an employer acts to prevent such action, it can do both itself and its employees a good service. Not to mention celebrity guests.

For more information contact the author at lsorohan@laborlawyers.com  or (504) 522-3303.

Larry Sorohan is Of Counsel in the New Orleans office. He practices in all areas of labor and employment law representing management. While in law school, Larry served as Senior Articles Editor for the Arizona Law Review. Larry clerked for the Honorable John C. Coughenour, United States District Judge, as well as for the Honorable Jerome Farris, United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

www.laborlawyers.com

Advertise with 4Hoteliers.com ...[Click for More]

~ Important Notice ~
Articles appearing here contain copyright material. They are meant for your personal use and may not be reproduced or redistributed. While 4Hoteliers makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we can not be held responsible for the content nor the views expressed, which may not necessarily be those of either the original author or 4Hoteliers or its agents.

Learn more about DigiJames - in room technology
Advertisment  
 Related Articles  (Click title to read)
Hacking at Hotels: Mutating Threats at the Ramparts.
Revisiting Facebook’s Social Recruiting Capabilities.
Marketing For The New Age.
The Luxury Consumer in the New Digital World: Then & Now.
 Latest News  (Click title to read article)
UK chain hotels market review - March 2014
Thursday, 24th April 2014

Four Seasons soars to new heights with hotel industry's first fully branded jet
Thursday, 24th April 2014

Customer satisfaction with airlines remains low
Thursday, 24th April 2014

New Generation: new hotel guest technologies for new hotels
Thursday, 24th April 2014

Bangkok riverside hotels team up to promote Mice sector
Thursday, 24th April 2014
 Latest Articles  (Click title to read)
What Marketers Talk About When They Talk About Customer Experience
Thursday, 24th April 2014

NYC's 10 Most Decadent Chocolate Desserts
Thursday, 24th April 2014

Ritz-Carlton Reserves Focus on Social Storytelling
Wednesday, 23rd April 2014

Seeing Returns - Building Loyalty at Hotels Through Digital Customer Experience
Wednesday, 23rd April 2014

The Most Powerful Man in Online Travel? Sites Sunk By Google Blitz
Tuesday, 22nd April 2014
 Most Read Articles  (Click title to read)
Global Update: Who's Where and Doing What - Jan 2014
The Top Trends in Search for 2014
The Digital Direction Part 1: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing and Why it is Vital Hotels Understand
Global Update: Who's Where and Doing What - Feb 2014
Expedia's Top Five Conversion Tips
 Useful Links  (Click company to visit)
A-Listings - Exclusive Links Section @ 4Hoteliers
www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_mshw.php?mwi=9

Book Hotels & Travel
www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=105951

Connect with us at LinkedIn
hk.linkedin.com/in/4hoteliers

Customized Hotel & Restaurant Equipment
www.forkandchopstick.com

Follow us on Twitter!
www.twitter.com/4hoteliers

Hospitality Consultants ~ Lifestyle Concepts
www.lifestyle-concepts.com

Hospitality IT & Technology
www.nonweiler.com

Hotel Opening Processes: Exploring better ways to open new hotels.
www.hotelopeningprocesses.com

ITB 2015 Marketing
www.4hoteliers.com/news/story/9725

Private, luxurious holiday villa in Valbonne
www.villa-valbonne-biot.com/en

Sayang - For True Wine Lovers
www.sayangwines.com

TV4Hoteliers.com - Live Interviews
TV4Hoteliers.com

Wynamics ~ Working the Dynamics of Wine
www.wynamics.com

ZIXI - Your Asian Partner: Advisory - Sourcing - Project Management - Market Entry
zixi.hk


© Copyright 4Hoteliers 2001-2014 ~ unless stated otherwise, all rights reserved.
You can read more about 4Hoteliers and our company here

Use of this web site is subject to our
terms & conditions of service and privacy policy