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Key Issues In Workplace Privacy


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An hour long presentation on "hot topics" for Canadian employers. Deals with business system monitoring, employee responsibility for "off duty" publication and background checks.

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Key Issues In Workplace Privacy

  1. 1. Key issues in workplace privacy<br />Dan Michaluk<br />May 12, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Overview<br />Monitoring business systems<br />Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Background check developments<br />
  3. 3. Monitoring business systems<br />Why?<br />To engage in maintenance, repair and management<br />To meet a legal requirement to produce<br />To ensure continuity of business practice<br />To improve business processes<br />To maintain internal control (including preventing misconduct and ensuring legal compliance)<br />
  4. 4. Monitoring business systems<br />How businesses maintain internal control<br />Conduct routine audits*<br />Investigate suspicions of misconduct*<br />Respond to what they find<br />Keep a good record of the same<br />
  5. 5. Monitoring business systems<br />The traditional law<br />Notification does count<br />The employer owns the medium and has lots of good reasons to look<br />E-mail communication is too insecure to expect privacy<br />No balancing of interests at all<br />
  6. 6. Monitoring business systems<br />Challenge #1 – Decision-maker value shift<br />LethbridgeCommunity College (2007)<br />MS Hotmail e-mails retrieved through forensic analysis<br />First case to impose a reasonable grounds requirement for investigation<br />Value shift may also be gleaned from Cole and Tfaily (two very recent and hot Ontario cases)<br />
  7. 7. Monitoring business systems<br />Challenge #2 – Supervisor value shift<br />Quontext message case heard by SCOTUS in April 2010<br />Will your supervisors enforce policies they deem to be intrusive?<br />
  8. 8. Monitoring business systems<br />Change #3 – Privacy legislation<br />Imposes an “objective reasonableness” requirement<br />At play in UBC spyware case<br />But, notably, Johnson case suggests PIPEDA does not apply to “personal” e-mails<br />
  9. 9. Monitoring business systems<br />Option #1 – Try harder to control expectation<br />Personal use does not come with privacy!<br />Routine acknowledgements<br />Audit and communicate audit results to employees<br />
  10. 10. Monitoring business systems<br />Option #2 – Go with a purpose-based policy<br />List purposes and stick with purposes<br />Give the same expectation of privacy warning re personal use<br />Set a evidence-based standard for investigation<br />Set a protocol or procedure for audits<br />
  11. 11. Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Bob and Sue had a long day. They go to the Dirty Dog Pub after work and, over the course of four hours, take jabs at their supervisor, Phil.<br />
  12. 12. Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Jack had a long day. He goes home, cracks open a beer, and boots up his home computer. <br />Using a picture of his supervisor taken from the company intranet and some internet based software, he alters the picture so the manager looks ridiculous. <br />Jack posts it to his Facebook page. He feels good.<br />
  13. 13. Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Duty of fidelity applies when employee expression is likely to significantly affect a legitimate employer interest<br />All other activity is “private”<br />
  14. 14. Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Nexus commonly derived from<br />Impact on other employees rights<br />Impact on job responsibilities<br />Impact on reputation<br />
  15. 15. Publication and “off duty” conduct<br />Whistleblower exception for speaking publicly<br />Serious and imminent threat to health and safety<br />Illegality<br />Subject to the “report up the ladder” principle (Merk)<br />Criminal Code immunity for reports to law enforcement and regulators<br />Not for blogging or tweeting<br />Not for giving information to mainstream media<br />
  16. 16. Background check developments<br />An information collection model <br />for efficient and responsible<br />recruiting<br />
  17. 17. Background check developments<br />Internet searches<br />Do it at the end, not the beginning<br />Question, “Is it necessary? What’s relevant?”<br />Set objective criteria for a non-decision maker search agent<br />Create a business record of the search<br />
  18. 18. Background check developments<br />Access to the CPIC database<br />Enforcement of name and d.o.b. check rule due to privacy/accuracy concerns<br />About 120 days from a “we can’t complete the check” answer<br />Commercial service providers can’t conduct vulnerable sector checks<br />Release of vulnerable sector report to applicant first<br />
  19. 19. Background check developments<br />Where no human rights regulation<br />Response = “we can’t complete the check” = lapse of offer<br />Option to hire anyway<br />Get a declaration and apply due diligence<br />Weigh need to hire against risk in light of controls<br />Make completion of check condition clear<br />
  20. 20. Background check developments<br />Where human rights regulation<br />You must weigh need to hire against risk in light of controls<br />Get a declaration and apply due diligence<br />Make completion of check condition clear<br />
  21. 21. Background check developments<br />Pressure to use local checks<br />CPIC results are very qualified<br />Ontario criminal case highlights staleness of CPIC data<br />
  22. 22. Background check developments<br />Risks of local checks<br />Much broader information<br />Non-standard information<br />See Tadros(Ont. C.A.) about disclosure of withdrawn charges<br />At the same time, Ontario HRT has said charges are not protected in MyTrak Health Systems<br />
  23. 23. Dan Michaluk<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
  24. 24. Key issues in workplace privacy<br />Dan Michaluk<br />May 12, 2010<br />