Fined for telling the truth

Stuff reports:

A childcare centre must pay a former employee $3000 in damages for breaching her privacy by giving her a bad job reference which saw her miss out on a job.

How dare they give a bad reference.

In February 2015, she resigned to take up what she thought was her new position but the management at Katui decided not to give her a reference because of her unsatisfactory work performance. 

After Gin-Cowan signed her employment agreement, MUMA contacted her asking her for a curriculum vitae. She put one together in haste, naming the manager at Katui as her referee and providing the centre’s phone number as the contact number for the manager.

So she listed the old centre’s manager as a referee and used the centre phone number.

When the Māngere centre staff rang Katui, the manager Gin-Cowan had selected as her referee was on sick leave.

The acting manager answered the phone and said she and Gin-Cowan did not get on, she would not provide a reference for her, and she would not re-employ her. She then gave out a phone number for the Matthews. 

The Māngere staff member rang Mrs Matthews, who said Gin-Cowan was often late to work, was unreliable and had unsatisfactory work habits, according to the staff member’s evidence. 

If she listed a work number as a referee, then she was risking they would end up talking to someone else.

The tribunal found Gin-Cowan’s humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings was caused by a minor breach in privacy under Principle 11 of the Privacy Act. That states any agency that holds personal information shouldn’t disclose it unless it believes the disclosure is authorised by the individual concerned.

Katui was ordered to pay Gin-Cowan $3000 and costs were reserved.

Incredibly unfair. If a work phone number is given out for a referee check, then you’d assume consent when someone phones on that number.

Comments (54)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment