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Disclosure of Employee Revenue Information to Union not a Breach of the Personal Information Protection Act

Comox Valley Distribution Ltd. v United Steelworkers, Local 1-1937, 2017 CanLII 72391 (BC LA)

In response to complaints that junior drivers were being favoured over senior drivers in the assignment of freight delivery runs the union and employer negotiated quarterly union management meetings to resolve these issues.

In advance of one of these meetings the union asked the employer to provide monthly and daily revenues for drivers on the seniority list in order to assess whether shifts were being assigned equitably in accordance with the collective agreement.

The employer refused to provide the information because one driver objected to his information being disclosed to the union citing the Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”).
At issue was whether disclosure of revenue information for individual employees to the union without the employees’ consent was a breach of PIPA.

The relevant portion of PIPA is Section 19 which provides in part:

(2) An organization may not disclose employee personal information without the consent of the individual unless

(b) the disclosure is reasonable for the purposes of establishing, managing or terminating an employment relationship between the organization and the individual.

The Arbitrator found the revenue information sought by the union was reasonable for the purposes of managing an employment relationship and thus fell within the Section 19 (2)(b) exception.

The employer would not breach PIPA by providing the union with the employees’ revenue information without consent.

Section 19(2)(b) of PIPA should be read in light of and in harmony with the Labour Relations Code (the “Code”): at pg. 8.

The Code gives unions exclusive authority to bargain on behalf of individual employees, in this context the Arbitrator wrote at page 12:

“In my view, [unionized employees] must be deemed to understand and expect that the union will be entitled to disclosure from their employer of relevant employee personal information necessary for it to carry out its duties and obligations under the Labour Relations Code and under its collective agreement.”

Additionally, disclosure of the revenue information was necessary to achieve the purposes of the union management meetings. This cooperation in resolving workplace issues was encouraged by Section 2(1)(d) of the Code.