A reader writes:
I have a question about personal contact information at my company. I work in a relatively small office (~25 people), and we have an extension list that also includes everyone’s cell phone numbers (not paid for by the company — our personal cell phones). I just started, so I just got listed.
I’m not thrilled with the idea that all of these people can now contact me at any time, mostly regarding matters not relating to our work (mocking about a football game, for example, came via text from an unrecognized number who turned out to be a coworker I’ve barely spoken to).
When I asked our HR person (she maintains the list) if it was possible to remove my number from this list, she said, and I quote, “not gonna happen” and walked away. Her reaction bothers me, but my main question is: is my employer allowed to give out my personal cell phone number to other employees without my permission?
Even if it is legal, I’d like to get my number taken off the list — do you have any advice of how I could go about doing that, since our HR person already voiced her opinion on the matter?
I could have sworn we talked about this before, but I couldn’t find it! I may have dreamed it. In any case…
I know of no law that would prevent this; it’s an issue of office policy. And it’s very common. Offices do it so that people can be reached in emergencies, real (“the office is full of anthrax; don’t come in”) or not-quite-so-real (“where did you save that document?”).
I doubt you can get your number removed from the list without a pretty good reason. But if these random texts are common (and not just that one guy, that one time), you could either (a) ask that a note reading “for emergency use only” be added next to your number, or (b) ask that someone authoritative put a stop to that type of use of the list.
However, your HR person is rude and unprofessional. If she’s always that rude and dismissive, I’d put more attention on addressing that, not the phone number.