BC Human Rights Tribunal has questionable approach to privacy laws

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has a bizarre notion about what constitutes protection of privacy.

If you file a complaint, the complaint itself is private until the case goes to hearing. If the opposing party files an application to dismiss, this and any evidence and submissions are also considered private.

However, the Tribunal will make a decision based on this evidence and post this on the website. This decision will inevitably contain names, information about people’s employment, information about their health and relationships, etc.

But still, the actual evidence and submissions received by the Tribunal are kept private and won’t be released unless the media or someone else is able to convince the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to release them. (I will at some point attempt this as part of my research but I need to identify the right type of case first. Once I do, I will blog about it.) As far, as I know, no media outlet has attempted this in an application to dismiss.

To return to the issue of the Tribunal releasing private information on their website of people involved in cases that didn’t go to hearing, it’s hard for me to accept that the public interest is served. For one thing, the public and the media can’t act in an oversight role because they don’t know what information was presented and what was left out. They have no context, so they don’t gain any knowledge from reading these cases, or at least they gain nothing by knowing the personal information.

For another thing, in my case, the “facts” reported in the Tribunal’s decision bore no relationship to the actual facts in the evidence. They falsely reported that I was fired with cause for not delivering newspapers when the employer had not made this argument. Obviously making false statements about someone’s employment and hiding the evidence that you are lying does not protect their privacy.

Either the Tribunal should adhere to the truth (which is highly unlikely), make the submissions open to the perusal of media and the public, or omit the names from cases that don’t progress to a hearing.


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