The Privacy Commissioner has found that a Union breached the privacy of one of its members by releasing a report it had obtained for one purpose in an unrelated matter involving its member.

The Union had been given a report by the Employer of its member in relation to an employment investigation. It then used that report in relation to an internal inquiry into its own conduct in relation to representing the employee and a colleague.

The Privacy Commissioner found that the Union was in breach of privacy principal 10 because it used a report obtained for one purpose without consent of its member and knowing that he objected to release of the report. The Privacy Commissioner found that the man had suffered emotional harm as a result of the privacy breach and recommended a conciliation conference between the Union and its member to resolve the matter.

The Union, however, refused to accept the Privacy Commissioner’s findings and refused to take part in the proposed conciliation process. This left its member with having to take a case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal if he wanted any remedy for the breach of his privacy.