Public servants using access laws in workplace claims
Some public servants are using Access to Information and Privacy legislation to make requests about their own work records, sometimes after a grievance or termination.
Federal government departments received more than 35,000 access-to-information requests in 2010 alone, and some federal employees said they were among those taking advantage of access laws.
CBC Ottawa spoke with one former government staffer who received more than 1,200 documents through Access to Information. The former staffer, who is claiming wrongful dismissal, spoke under condition of anonymity because he was concerned going public with his claim would hurt his future chances of employment.
"As I started filing them and looking up cases, I learned that there were quite a few employees with the same employer who went through similar difficulties and had to file access to info," he said.
There are no statistics as to how many public servants file these kinds of requests. But he said he's talked to many others who are doing the same thing.
Kris Klein, a privacy law expert and partner at nNovation LLP, said the access requests often come after a grievance where the employer is not co-operating or after discipline or a termination.
Private-sector employees working for federally-regulated corporations can also file acces requests, said Klein. And privacy laws in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec also allow private-sector workers to access personal information about themselves.
He said the rise in requests comes from greater awareness of how they can help build a case.
"If people are aware of their rights, there is more likelihood they'll exercise those rights....and realize now the value of their own information and knowing what people think about them and what organizations and the government has about them," he said.