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Ongoing grievance process a more appropriate forum to attempt resolution of employee dispute over implementation of a new authentication process

Declined to Investigate Case Summary #2014-001

September 26, 2014

Lessons Learned

  • When a complainant to our Office ought first to exhaust grievance or review procedures otherwise reasonably available, the Commissioner can decline to investigate a complaint pursuant to paragraph 12(1)(a) of PIPEDA.


The complainant, an employee of a federally-regulated transportation company, alleged that the organization was requiring all its employees to use a new authentication process that required the collection and use of employee personal information. According to the complainant, this process would replace the card-and-reader system (i.e., the punch clock) currently in use. The complainant wanted the organization to justify the need to collect the information and explain how it would handle the information. He was not satisfied with the response he had received from the company.

He and several other employees of the company made complaints to our Office regarding the new process.

Declined to Investigate

Our Office noted that a grievance/arbitration process was available to those employees, pursuant to the collective agreement between their union and the organization. Moreover, we were made aware that this process was already underway since a grievance had been filed about this matter through their union.

Based on these circumstances, our Office declined to investigate this complaint pursuant to paragraph 12(1)(a) of PIPEDA, which states: “The Commissioner shall conduct an investigation in respect of a complaint unless the Commissioner is of the opinion that … the complainant ought first to exhaust grievance or review procedures otherwise reasonably available.”

Our decision was informed by: (i) the fact that the grievance/arbitration process in this case results in a legally binding resolution on the organization; and (ii) each stage of the grievance/arbitration process has defined timelines associated with it. Therefore, it was possible that the grievance/arbitration process, which was already underway, could resolve the matter in a timely manner without the OPC’s involvement

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