Investigation Concludes Workers’ Compensation Board Did Not Breach the Complainant’s Privacy When It Disclosed Personal Information

March 22, 2001

Information and Privacy Commissioner Bob Clark released Investigation Report 2000-IR-005 today. The report concludes an investigation conducted under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “FOIP Act”).

The Complainant alleged that the Workers’ Compensation Board (“WCB”) violated the FOIP Act when a WCB Case Manager disclosed the Complainant’s resume to a prospective employer without the Complainant’s authorization or consent. The Complainant also alleged that the Case Manager disclosed information about the Complainant to the Complainant’s current employer.

The Portfolio Officer, assigned to the investigation, confirmed that the Case Manager had forwarded a copy of the Complainant’s resume to a prospective employer. However, the Portfolio Officer determined that the disclosure was for the purpose of complying with section 83(1) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which authorizes WCB to “to take whatever measures it considers necessary to assist a worker injured in an accident and entitled to compensation to return to work”. Therefore, the disclosure is in accordance with section 38(1)(d) of the FOIP Act [disclosure for the purpose of complying with an enactment of Alberta].

However, the Portfolio Officer recommended that the WCB clearly communicate in writing to injured workers when they are referred to job search assistance programs that their resumes would be placed on their WCB files, and that copies of the resume may be forwarded to potential employers. WCB agreed to comply with the Portfolio Officer’s recommendation.

With respect to the second allegation, the Portfolio Officer found that the Case Manager contacted the Complainant’s current employer to obtain information needed for the determination of WCB entitlements to be granted to the Complainant. In order to obtain this information, it is reasonable for the Case Manager to reveal to the current employer that the Complainant is a WCB claimant. The Portfolio Officer decided the disclosure is in accordance with section 38(1)(j) of the FOIP Act [disclosure for the purpose of determining suitability or eligibility for a program or benefit].