Women’s website Bustle could land itself in court after asking its writers to list their race, sexual orientation, whether they use drugs, have had an abortion or engaged in group sex, according to labor and privacy experts.
A copy of the voluntary survey was posted to Gawker on Thursday. Writers who had already been been hired by the popular lifestyle website were asked a series of extremely personal questions, including what religion they practiced.
Under the section “why you should fill out this survey”, the company told writers they would be more likely to receive “assignments more tailored to your areas of interest and knowledge”, and that completing it “opens you up to possibly getting to write ‘identity articles’ which are really fun, and could give you a chance to work on something outside of your normal Bustle work”.
“Health and health-related information is incredibly sensitive and contextual, easily misinterpreted outside of a doctor’s office and often incorrectly used to characterize a person’s integrity, ideals, etc, and ultimately can be a tool for discrimination,” said Michelle de Mooy, deputy director of the Consumer Privacy Project.
“It’s very difficult to imagine a scenario here where employees don’t feel pressured or even coerced to give up this information,” said de Mooy. “The company is dangling the possibility of better assignments and a closer relationship with editors.”