Workplace privacyIndividual privacy and employment rights...

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

August 10, 1992

Workplace privacy

Individual privacy and employment rights are clashing. And concern about that conflict led the 8,000-member National Consumers League to survey 1,204 U.S. workers on how they feel about workplace privacy.

The poll shows that 67 percent believe employers should not be allowed to ask about the private lives of job seekers, 27 percent believe they should and 6 percent were unsure.

Other findings:

* 83 percent say questions about living with a non-family member of the opposite sex are unacceptable.

* 80 percent object to queries about plans to have children.

* 79 percent say it isn't right to ask whether a job applicant smokes outside of the workplace.

Rather than invading privacy, many employers say their questions will help contain health-care costs, encourage wellness and promote healthy lifestyles.

"We've had many complaints from workers, and this poll shows that both on and off the job, an overwhelming majority of Americans value their privacy," said Linda F. Golodner, president of the Washington-based National Consumers League. "But job applicants and employees feel vulnerable and are intimidated in these economic times.

"They're concerned if they don't answer the questions they won't get the job. If they're employed, they'll be considered a troublemaker."

Junior League

A good place for women to get the skills and experience necessary to move ahead professionally is the Junior League, says its new national president, Mary B. Babson, a certified public accountant, vice president of communications and principal at Arthur Andersen & Co.'s world headquarters in Chicago.

"Being in the League . . . gives women the skills to tackle difficult issues, skills that are readily transferable to the workplace," said Ms. Babson, a Phi Beta Kappa member who has a master's degree in business administration.

The Junior League? Is she kidding? Isn't the volunteer group made up of socially prominent young and unemployed white women married to affluent men?

Well, Ms. Babson isn't kidding: The 188,000-member Junior League -- officially known as the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc., with headquarters in New York -- has changed its image and expanded its agenda.

And, while still committed to volunteerism and issues involving children and education, today the league has a multicultural membership, and married members are no longer listed under their husbands' names. And, in 1987, the percentage of members in the paid labor market passed 50 percent. In 1992, it's 64.7 percent.

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