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WORKPLACE PRIVACY SURVEY: HAWAII FEATURED IN MAJOR PUBLIC OPINION POLL ON WHAT THE BOSS NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT EMPLOYEES

WORKPLACE PRIVACY SURVEY: HAWAII FEATURED IN MAJOR PUBLIC OPINION
 POLL ON WHAT THE BOSS NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT EMPLOYEES
 WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- People in Hawaii value their privacy, on the job and outside the workplace. The vast majority says that the boss has no business asking questions about the private lives, lifestyles, and off-work activities of job applicants and employees. Although most people in Hawaii believe employers should not ask these questions, many of those polled reported that an employer has done such things either to them or to someone they know.
 According to the OmniTrak Group Inc. poll released today by the National Consumers League and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, Americans clearly believe:
 -- Employers have no right to ask intrusive questions during job
 interviews.
 -- It is inappropriate for employers to hire and fire an employee
 for personal matters unrelated to the job.
 -- Employers have no right to try to change personal habits and
 lifestyles of employees.
 Linda F. Golodner, executive director of the National Consumers League, said: "This poll confirms what we have found in many other states -- that Americans believe they have a right to privacy on the job and off the job. It also shows that a significant number of employers are not respecting those rights."
 "The poll reveals the vast majority of workers in Hawaii are adamantly opposed to attempts by employers to force upon them a company-blessed lifestyle," said Russell K. Okata, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association. "As far as they are concerned, it's none of the boss's business who employees date, how much they eat, whether they smoke, take part in a political demonstration, hold a second job, drive a motorcycle or have pending workers' compensation claims. As far as people in Hawaii are concerned, the ability to perform the job should be the sole criterion i?nning and holding a job."
 I. No Right to Ask
 Overwhelmingly, those interviewed in Hawaii said a prospective employer has no right to ask the following questions:
 -- 82 percent, about an applicant's religion.
 -- 86 percent, whether applicant lives with a member of the
 opposite sex.
 -- 75 percent, if applicant had elderly parents.
 -- 81 percent, whether applicant plans to have children.
 -- 78 percent, if applicant smokes.
 -- 55 percent, about off-the-job hobbies and outside activities.
 -- 54 percent, about marital status.
 II. No Justification for Hiring or Firing
 Those surveyed in Hawaii were presented with nine examples of activities that employees may pursue on their own time away from work, their physical condition, and controversial opinions they may hold. Respondents were asked if they thought it was appropriate for the employer to base a decision to hire or fire on these criteria:
 -- 98 percent said it was inappropriate for an employer to base
 hiring or firing on whether an individual dated a person of a
 different race.
 -- 97 percent said whether an individual drives a motorcycle
 should not be a criterion.
 -- 90 percent said participating in political demonstrations
 should not be a basis for hiring or firing.
 -- 88 percent said it was inappropriate for employers to consider
 whether an employee participates in gambling at a racetrack.
 -- 77 percent said holding an unusual second job should not be a
 consideration for employers.
 -- 82 percent said being overweight should not be a consideration
 in hiring or firing an individual.
 -- 94 percent said it was inappropriate to base hiring or firing
 on an individual's support for abortion.
 -- 94 percent said it was inappropriate to base hiring or firing
 on an individual's opposition to abortion.
 -- 95 percent said it was inappropriate to base hiring or firing
 on whether an individual smokes.
 III. No Right to Force a Change in Lifestyle
 The vast majority of Americans believe that employers have no right to force employees to change their lifestyles.
 Here's the level at which survey respondents in Hawaii opposed employer rights in the following categories:
 -- 80 percent opposed employers monitoring personal telephone
 conversations.
 -- 88 percent opposed a prohibition of employees dating rival
 firm employees.
 -- 81 percent opposed an employer's refusal to hire an overweight
 person.
 -- 83 percent opposed an employer's refusal to hire a smoker.
 -- 94 percent opposed an employer's requirement that an employee
 change his or her diet.
 -- 87 percent opposed requiring an employee to quit smoking.
 -- 75 percent opposed an employer requiring an employee to quit a
 second job.
 -- 70 percent opposed an employer performing a credit check on a
 prospective employee.
 IV. Personal Experience
 The poll also asked people in Hawaii if they or anyone they knew had ever been asked any of the types of questions they objected to from employers. Fifty-seven percent said they had been asked about their marital status.
 -- 43 percent, about outside hobbies and activities.
 -- 25 percent, about their religion.
 -- 15 percent, about whether or not they planned to have
 children.
 -- 11 percent, about whether or not they smoked.
 -- 9 percent, about the age of their parents.
 -- 7 percent, about whether they lived with a non-family member
 of the opposite sex.
 Sixteen percent reported personal experience with monitored personal telephone conversations;
 -- 17 percent, credit checks on prospective employees.
 -- 16 percent, required to quit a second job.
 -- 12 percent, refused to hire an overweight person.
 -- 9 percent, refused to hire a smoker.
 -- 6 percent, required an employee or applicant to quit smoking.
 -- 5 percent, forbid an employee or applicant from dating an
 employee from a rival firm.
 -- 3 percent, required an employee or applicant to change diet.
 Twelve percent of those polled indicated they or someone they knew had been denied a job or fired because of being overweight.
 -- 7 percent because of an unusual second job.
 -- 7 percent because of participation in a political
 demonstration.
 -- 3 percent for smoking.
 -- 3 percent for dating a person of a different race.
 -- 2 percent for supporting abortion.
 -- 1 percent for opposing abortion.
 -- 3 percent for gambling at a race track.
 -- 1 percent for driving a motorcycle.
 The OmniTrak Group Inc. poll, conducted in February 1992 on behalf of the National Consumers League, was based on a random sample of 629 respondents in Hawaii. The margin of error in the survey is +/- 4 percent.
 The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is a private, non-profit consumer advocacy organization concerned with workplace and marketplace issues.
 -0- 3/13/92
 /CONTACT: Linda Golodner of the National Consumers League, 202-639-8140, or Russell K. Okata of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, 808-543-0011/ CO: National Consumers League; Hawaii Government Employees
 Association ST: Hawaii IN: SU:


MH-DC -- DC002 -- 7885 03/13/92 14:48 EST
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Date:Mar 13, 1992
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