What's that got to do with it!!!

It was mentioned to me that the finance manager was writing comments on the computerized ledger that may not be appropriate. I asked to review the ledger with comments and wow, it is filled with things like "husband left town", "legal issues with tenant", "cancer treatment", "94 years old - still works!", "heart surgery", "mother passed", and on and on.

This manager sees no problem with the notations, and insists that they "help me remember the customer" . I want to be prepared to say more than "just remove it". In preparing a written report to be given to this employee, his supervisor, and the general manager, I want to give some solid reasons (substantiated case data, if possible) why comments like these can land us in legal hot water and must be removed. Any help from the forum gurus is appreciated.


  • 12 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • To start, references to medical problems could be in violation to the new HIPAA reg's if seen by the wrong people. Does he want to be responsible for the company incurring a hefty fine?
  • DASHER: "I ASK YOU, WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH IT" IN THE HR WORLD? I have always made it my practice to stay out of the department'S business that runs my company outside of the HR world of issues and concerns. In 28 years of operating in and around general ledgers and soft ware programs, I have never reviewed a general ledger with comments made by the finance department for their purposes "HELPS TO REMEMBER CUSTOMERS"! THE "P&L" IS REVIEWED BY ME FOR HR ENTRIES AND CORRECTNESS OF THE INPUTTED DATA. IT IS THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT MANAGER'S PROGRAM AND IF HE DOES NOT WANT TO TAKE MY ADVISE TO "NOT PUT CELL COMMENTS THAT COULD BE CONSIDERED AS NEGATIVE, INTO HIS REPORTS" SO BE IT! HAVE YOUR DIALOGUE WITH YOUR CO-HART, BUT GET OFF OF THE HIGH HORSE AND WORK ON YOUR SSN/ MISMATCH ISSUES OR AUDIT YOUR PERSONNEL FILES!

  • Well, Pork, I guess that is one way to look at it (but you don't need to shout!). In the small non-profit I work for they look to me (HR) to help avoid legal ramifications for the entire company. As part of the senior management team, I have to do a lot more than "SSN matching and personnel files". I don't think I am on a "high horse" to advise a manager that these comments if seen by the wrong party could cause us harm. But you may have a point.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 09-16-03 AT 12:17PM (CST)[/font][p]DASHER: Don't be so nice, I was wrong to SHOUT, I'm just hard of hearing, I been around these SCREEMING ANIMALS to long. I just don't like to see HR's become overly involved with other then HR opportunities. If my shouting woke you up, then I'm glad I did shout; otherwise, I apologize. PORK

    Yea, Dasher, thatis what it is CONTACT MANAGEMENT!
  • pork, it's only a question ... be nice

  • I am not sure either why he needs this information or how he uses it nor am I certain it is appropriate to have it on a ledger. I do keep that type of information about our store managers in a personal directory, so I can remember when talking to them. We have some 465 managers and I may only speak to some of them once or twice a year. However, I usually chit chat with them a few minutes when they do call and like to remember certain things about them so when we talk again, I can ask them about it. One manager is into community theater, another built his own airplane, another's wife is having their first baby, another's wife has cancer etc. So, I guess it would depend on his need for that info.

  • Sounds to me as if this manager is using his ledger as some sort of "contact management." The information that he is writing would probably get you in hot water if it were concerning applicants or employees, but he is notating personal issues of customers / clients, so they really aren't protected under the same rules that employees and applicants are. Our sales staff has some pretty outrageous comments in their contact management software, but again, this information isn't protected, because their prospects are not employee *and* the information is fact based - I beleive it would be a different story if they were documenting opinions ("Boy, this lady is nuts!") vs. facts presented by the individual ("Her husband just filed for divorce after 35 yrs of marriage.")

    Katrina Hutchins

    "It's kind of fun to do the impossible..." ~ Walt Disney
  • I agree. I don't see the connection between employment law issues and personal notes about customers. While it would be entirely possible to sit around and brainstorm scenarios, to say that there could be imminent legal ramifications for these notes in the margins seems to be a stretch. I work for a non-profit and can appreciate your position, however, I don't think you have anything to worry about here.
  • I agree as well. Not an HR issue, not a HIPPA issue by any stretch and I wouldn't worry about it if the Finance Department isn't worried about it.
  • Best advice, if this guy needs helpful reminders about his clients, have him write them in a personal datebook or something that is not company related that could be seen by others. I agree with the HIPAA regulations, if your company is subject to that. If not, I would suggest consulting with a lawyer for the substantiated case data you need.
  • I'm probably the only one out here that has no clue why your finance manager needs to make comments about people on a company document. Maybe I'm dense. What relationship is there to the document and the people he is making notes about? I do agree with the recommendation that he create his own personal business tool to make such parenthetical remarks if he thinks they are helpful to him in maintaining relationships. I also agree with Pork that this is not an HR issue. But I understand your standing in the company and see that you are relied on for all sorts of guidance. To be safe, if I were in a position of providing guidance on all kinds of general activity I would advise him to not make such personal notations on company documents. They are available to other employees and outside auditors and the comments are personal.

    Note to Pork: I know a whole lot about medicine. Remember that I play a doctor on weekends. And, although you are hard of hearing, there is absolutely no medical research to support your belief that if you push down the 'caps lock' button, people in cyberspace will hear you better. Also, what would a man in the pig business know about a high horse anyway? x:-)
  • "Dandy Don": welcome to this very interesting posting. My 14 year old wiz, at the computer, granddaughter told me that the ALL CAPS BUTTON caused the words to be louder; I just wish everyone knew that so I could hear better! Glad you woke up and joined the crowd of HARD WORKING HRs, from your restful early snooze! Dasher and I have made our mends and now you come a picking, go back to the old oak tree and have a cold one on me!!!

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