Wired Magazine Gives IBM Top Employee Privacy Honors

September 8, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Eliminating Social Security numbers from employee health care records has earned International Business Machines Corp (IBM) the gold medal in workplace privacy.

Joining Big Blue on the list of companies Wired Magazine found least intrusive on their employees’ privacy was Hewlett-Packard Co and Baxter Healthcare based on their protection of internal employee records. Additionally, Wired lauded Ford and Sears for voluntarily signing on with stern data-protection laws in Europe and California, according to a Reuters report.

On the other end of the scale was Eli Lilly Co, which was criticized for its invasive background checks of workers after September 11, 2001, some of which led to dismissals. The drugmaker was not alone on the dubious end of the list, as Wired also pointed a critical finger at:

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc – criticized for secretly taping employees
  • Hilton Hotels Corp – also hissed at for video employee voyeurism
  • New York Times Co – booed for requiring doctors to disclose employee medical records
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp – blacklisted for its attempt to fight workers’ compensation claims with genetic testing.

Results of the survey were based on a survey sent to employee watchdog organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Privacy Foundation to determine which large, publicly traded companies were the best and worst for workplace privacy.