Confidentiality

Many staff and faculty members handle a variety of proprietary and private information concerning colleagues, students, patients, alumni, donors, or others associated with the University, as well as confidential information regarding University business. This material may include payroll figures, personal data such as employee home addresses, donor files, or student records. It is the responsibility of all Tufts employees to respect the highest level of privacy for their colleagues and other members of the Tufts community. Disclosure and discussion of confidential information obtained from University, school, or department records, either during or after employment with Tufts, is impermissible unless such disclosure is a normal requirement of an employee’s position and has been so authorized. If an employee is confronted with a situation in which he or she is unsure about the appropriateness of disclosing certain information, he or she should consult with a supervisor, chair, dean, or the Human Resources department.

In the course of employment, certain employees will have access to confidential information related to research. This sometimes includes information related to University-owned intellectual property or information belonging to a research sponsor for which the University has agreed to maintain confidentiality. It may also include confidential information related to research subjects. Employees will be expected to respect the confidential nature of such information and not to disclose it in any manner unless specifically authorized by the principal investigator of the research project.

Questions & Answers

Question: I received a call from another Tufts employee requesting the home addresses of several staff members in my office. Should I release this information?
Answer: No. Employees expect the University to exercise great discretion in sharing personal information, and their privacy should therefore be respected. An employee’s home address and phone number should not be released without his/her consent, unless a case of emergency – a medical crisis, for instance – warrants this action.

Question:

My supervisor is identified as the "responsible person" on a number of budget accounts. I maintain the account and budget records for our department and have been requested by a coworker to provide information regarding a particular transaction affecting one of the accounts. Should I share this information?

Answer: No, only the "responsible person" for that account should answer questions regarding transactions. You should refer the coworker to your supervisor, who can best decide whether or not to provide the answer.

Question:

As part of my job, I am often required to notify students in our department of their grades. Should this information be treated confidentially?

Answer: Yes. Grades are considered confidential information, so care should be taken to make certain that a student’s grade information is released only to him or her. Departments require students to show identification when requesting their grades; you should be certain to confirm your department’s specific policy with your supervisor or chair.