Damaging reference survives Alberta privacy challenge

Disclosure of job performance information found reasonable
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/25/2008

An Alberta woman’s complaint that her former employer disclosed unnecessary personal information to her prospective employer in a reference check has been rejected by Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work.

The woman, who wasn’t named in the decision, was working as a temp for Burnswest, a Calgary-based land development and property management company, in 2005. She applied for a full-time position so Burnswest contacted her former employer, George Byma Real Estate, for a reference.

Byma told Burnswest its former employee had done a good job for a while but things deteriorated towards the end of her employment. It reported she made mistakes and had wasted or “stolen” company time. Burnswest asked about the employee’s skill levels, quality of work, punctuality, position with Byma and how she got along with co-workers. When Burnswest asked if Byma would hire her again, her former employer responded that it definitely would not.