employment lawyer speaking with caption 'Assume Work Surveys are NOT anonymous' 'any anonymous surveys at work' (l) employment lawyer speaking with caption 'Just like work emails, they can access it and you have no legal 'expectation of privacy'' 'it or check it at any time' (c) employment lawyer speaking with caption 'Unless it is illegal or illegal retaliation, there isn't much you can do if they don't keep it anonymous' 'be used against you' (r)


‘It’s better to be safe than sorry’: Employment lawyer shares PSA about ‘anonymous’ work surveys

'I don't care what they tell you, those things are not anonymous.'


Allyson Waller


Posted on Jan 31, 2023   Updated on Jan 31, 2023, 12:48 pm CST

A lawyer is warning employees to be wary of anonymous surveys at work, cautioning they may not be so anonymous despite what they’ve been told.

In a recent video, viewed more than 500,000 times, TikTok user Paige Sparks (@lawyerpaige) told viewers that there isn’t much legal protection surrounding the anonymous surveys they may complete at work.

“I don’t care what they tell you, those things are not anonymous,” Sparks says in the clip. “…“I’m not saying they’re lying to you but there is no legal obligation for them to make sure that’s anonymous.” 

@lawyerpaige #law #legal #lawyer #legaltiktok #lawyersoftiktok #work #hr #anonymous #employment #employmentlaw ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Sparks, who according to her website practices employment law, says that unless there’s illegal discrimination involved or retaliation, there’s really nothing that can be done legally from stopping human resource employees from sharing the results of surveys with managers.

“Answering your company survey is kind of like your company email—they can access it or check it at any time,” Sparks said. “I always say it’s better to be safe than sorry and just pretend like the person you’re wanting to complain about is reading that report, that way it can’t be used against you because if they do you may not have a lot of legal recourse.” 

According to Harvard Business Review, employees are more likely to participate in surveys if it is confirmed they will remain anonymous and are ensured no individual survey could be connected to a certain employee. The publication also noted employees respond differently if a survey is being completed physically on paper or administered electronically via a computer, which can have a unique electronic fingerprint. 

There’s also a difference between anonymous and confidential surveys. The latter means employees will be sharing personal information that is identifiable but the information will be kept private. 

Commenters on Sparks’ video detailed they’ve often had to deal with harmful repercussions related to anonymous surveys. 

“I literally had this happen at the Dental Laboratory I worked at,” one commenter said. “Our entire department took an ‘anonymous survey,’ and it was used against us.” 

“Of course they aren’t [anonymous]!” another commenter added. “I used to have my abusive manager at Disney come at me with QUOTES! Lesson learned.” 

Others mentioned the use of a third party to conduct surveys provided some added protection. 

“We use 3rd party so it’s completely anonymous,” one person commented. “ I guess it depends on the company. We really care about our employees and their feedback.” 

The Daily Dot reached out to Paige via email and TikTok comment.

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2023, 12:47 pm CST