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Digest of the Week | Workplace Policy on Sharing Employee Information Breached

Employee breached workplace privacy policy by disseminating information to a third party


Stevens v. Walsh
2016 CarswellOnt 6236, 2016 ONSC 2418, 265 A.C.W.S. (3d) 813
Ontario Superior Court of Justice



Torts --- Invasion of privacy — Miscellaneous


Plaintiff and defendant were pilots with airline, and defendant was friend of plaintiff's estranged wife — Defendant admitted that she accessed flight schedule information of plaintiff and disseminated that information to plaintiff's estranged wife — Defendant also provided affidavit in support of plaintiff's estranged wife in her divorce file that contained scheduling information of plaintiff taken off of certain password protected websites — Trial judge found that elements of tort of intrusion upon seclusion had been made out — Defendant appealed — Appeal dismissed — Policy of airline, that had to be followed by all employees, emphasized privacy rights of employees — Policy specifically prohibited any employee from disseminating personal information of another employee to third parties without express permission of other employee — Sharing of personal information between employees was clearly restricted for work related purposes only, and permission to review and obtain this information was not given unless it was for work related purposes — If information was reviewed and used for any other purpose, this resulted in conduct that constituted intentional invasion of private affairs or concerns, and reasonable person would regard this type of invasion of privacy as highly offensive and causing distress, humiliation, and anguish to person — Accessing of information by defendant for non-work related purposes amounted to intrusion — Dissemination of information was corroborative of improper access.
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