What Constitutes a Privacy Breach in the Workplace?
Just cause for termination is the capital punishment of dismissals. If proved, an employee can be dismissed without notice, meaning they can be terminated without being given a severance package. A recent breach of privacy by Ontario employees has brought up the question of whether ‘snooping’ will be enough to dismiss for cause.
Hamilton Health Sciences has dismissed eight employees for allegedly breaching its privacy policies around patient data. The employees did not print, download or share the data, but rather are accused of snooping through patient files. Given the sensitive nature of patient health files, this is more serious than most cases of corporate snooping.
Why Should Employees Be Mindful of Privacy in the Workplace?
While the details of this specific case are not yet known, it brings up interesting questions around what the line is to be drawn in cases where employees breach privacy policies. Is a single breach enough for a just cause termination? Do they need to misuse or share the information? The answer on whether the conduct is sufficient for cause will always depend on the specific circumstances. The more an employer can prove that the employee intentionally and wilfully breached its policies, the more likely dismissal for just cause will be made out. A history of similar misconduct and warnings will also bolster an allegation of cause.
As with all cases, the outcome will depend on the circumstances of the case at hand. However, employees should take a lesson to be mindful that their actions can be monitored and that employers are increasingly concerned with privacy breaches and protecting confidential information.
What Can Whitten & Lublin Offer in Terms of Legal Insight?
To better understand your employment rights, we encourage employees to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.
Author – Rachel Patten