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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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My employer disclosed extremely sensitive information regarding

Customer Question

My employer disclosed extremely sensitive information regarding my childhood, that I had shared with them in strict confidence to the Occupational Health physician without my permission. Do I have a case to put in a grievance in relation to breach of data protection.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
At the least this was breach of confidentiality. I believe that this information was passed on in an attempt to discredit my mental health status. I am currently absent from work due to work related stress following an assault at work and a subsequent disciplinary issue in regards ***** ***** My employer had apparently paid this private doctor to ask specific questions about my current health. This resulted in an extremely inappropriate question being asked about my childhood in the presence of a close friend who I would never have divulged such information to. This has caused me further distress.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello how long have you worked there for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have worked there for 13 years but just last year the school was taken over by an Academy Trust.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your patience, I was in tribunal by the time you had replied and have only just finished. Going back to your query, this is a likely breach of data protection. If a party has acted in contravention of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), then anyone who has suffered damage or distress as a result can potentially make a claim. The first step is to report the alleged contravention to the Information Commissioner’s Office. They are the regulatory body that deals with breaches of data protection regulations and can investigate and fine the infringing party. However they will not award compensation to the victim so the only way to try and get any compensation is by going through court. If the victim has only suffered distress and no financial damages, compensation is not available unless the breach related to the “special purposes” which means it was related to the processing of artistic, literary or journalistic information. Any other breaches will not qualify. So you are unlikely to be able to make a claim for breach of data protection. Instead, you can try and pursue this as a grievance first and then as a constructive dismissal claim. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you can take to progress this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for getting back to me i had arrangements for last night so was unavailable to discuss thus issue at that time. Of course i would like to explore this question further but my situation is very complex it is a case of bullying, harassment a d false accusations. This last development is the latest i series of four attempts to discredit me. I am being pur under immense pressure to defend my reputation or resign.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My employer took a statement i had made in a previous confidential 'fact finding' meeting and passed this information on to OH. This statement was then used out of context to initiate an exremely sensitive, personal and inappropriate question in front of a friend i had brought with me for support. I was there to discuss my current health in relation to my long term sickness absence from work and not to be asked probing questions about my childhood. This has led to the outing of a very sensitive secret that was mine to keep and not theirs to break. Please could you provide this extra guidance that you have offered. Thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thanks for getting back to me. In the circumstances I would say the most likely cause of action you would have here is for constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long. A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario). The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away. If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal. Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal. An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much this answer has confirmed what i had already researched. Having a legal professional to state these options has given me the confidence to stand firm and get myself back on track. It is absolutely unacceptable that my employer is behaving in such a underhanded way.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I completely agree with you, but unfortunately I see things like that all too often in my line of work. Still, I hope that knowing your position will allow you to fight it and hopefully resolve this to your satisfaction

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