Company amends employee list it sends to union

Settled case summary #4


Several employees of a federally regulated company involved in transportation complained that a list of employees who were receiving severance packages was forwarded to the employees' union without their knowledge or consent. The list contained the employees' names, identification and seniority numbers, and social insurance numbers.


It transpired that a manager had given a copy of an electronic spreadsheet to a union representative. It was not immediately apparent to either the manager or the union representative that the SIN was included. Both the manager and the union representative had wanted the list so that they could respond to employees who had applied for the severance package and who wanted to know whether or not they had been approved.

Another union representative had contacted a different manager to ask for a list of individuals who would be receiving the package so that the union could send out best wishes cards to them. The employer responded, providing an electronic spreadsheet that had the names of the employees on it. The employer claimed that the SIN was included on the spreadsheet in a column that was hidden but not password protected. The union representative, however, stated that there was no SIN on the spreadsheet. In both instances, the employer did not have the employees' consent to disclose this information to the union.

The company admitted its mistake and changed one of its requirements for employees applying for severance packages prior to our investigation. Specifically, applicants no longer need to provide their SINs. As for the matter of disclosing any of the other information on the list to the union, the employer agreed with our Office to amend the application form to include a statement, asking the employee to consent to the release of their personal information to the union.

The complaint was settled during the course of the investigation in November 2004.

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