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Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Protects Bad Employee Performance

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Employers who fear lawsuits and therefore fail to reveal bad employee performance to employers seeking references, create a particular problem in the nursing home industry. Government privacy legislation is the deterrent to reveal relevant, reference information.

References that go beyond the bare-bones details of employment dates, job title and job description are increasingly hard to come by as companies seek to avoid potential legal headaches.

You could be the most incompetent, lazy, ne’er-do-well on the job, sexual predator or thief, but chances are your future employer will never hear about it from your current boss.

Legislature Building

In Edmonton, a convicted thief was able to obtain employment in three nursing homes despite a criminal record. (See Sanjeeta Gill)

Though the section of Alberta’s Personal Information and Protection Act does allow an employer to collect personal information about a potential employee without consent. It also allows a former employer to disclose personal employee information to a prospective employer. They can keep that information confidential.

“If it’s a good reference, it’s not a problem,” said Dan Scott, a labour and employment lawyer.” The problem for companies is when they have a problem former employee.

“The reality is companies tend to be litigation adverse. They don’t want to get sued or have anybody suggesting they’re defaming former employees.”

Because of the high risk and sensitive nature of nursing home care, we are calling for:

  • detailed information of total, past work history recorded on every caregiver’s file.
  • Reason(s) for leaving all previous employment(s), which has been substantiated by sworn, written statements of previous employer(s). Strong penalties for those who might provide misinformation.
  • Criminal record check of all employees
  • Photo I.D. of each employee (see letter Yvonne Fritz)

The work history of people who give intimate care to vulnerable persons must be know. Such persons must be protected.

Legislation should hold employers accountable for the behavior / misbehaviors and work performance of their employees. Then employers would strongly endeavour to obtain accurate, comprehensive work histories of their employees.

Alberta’s privacy legislation fails to act in the best interests of vulnerable senior Albertans and as a result, seniors may be placed in harms way.


Adapted from “Companies know how to keep trap shut on bad employees”, Sara O’Donnell The Edmonton Journal, April 30, 2007.