Order F2003-007: Summary
DATE: July 16, 2003
PUBLIC BODY: City of Edmonton
FOIP REQUEST: The applicant, who had interviewed for a job with the City of Edmonton, requested access to records of a telephone conversation the interviewer had with a third party who had formerly supervised the applicant but was not a referee for the applicant. The conversation between the interviewer and the third party was "off the record" but some of the third party's comments were recorded on the back of the applicant's interview sheet. The City refused to disclose the information on the grounds that the exception for confidential evaluations (section 19(1)) applied. The applicant asked the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the City's decision.
ISSUES: The City submitted that the third party's comments were evaluative and opinion material, provided in confidence and compiled for the purpose of determining the applicant's suitability for employment with the City.
DECISION AND REASONS:
- The Commissioner determined that the third party's comments met the criteria for section 19(1). The Commissioner found that, although the comments were not provided by way of a formal reference, they were given in the same employment context in which a reference letter is provided. Citing Order 2000-029, the Commissioner found that the third party's description of the employment relationship with the applicant was part of the third party's personal views or opinions of the applicant. Therefore, it was personal information of the applicant that was evaluative or opinion material. Since the comments were recorded on the job interview sheet, they were compiled to determine the applicant's suitability for employment. The "off the record" nature of the comments indicated they were provided in confidence.
- The Commissioner also determined that the City had not properly exercised its discretion under section 19(1) in refusing to disclose the information requested. The City did not have the applicant's consent to collect the applicant's personal information from the third party. The City may not have had the authority under the Act to collect the applicant's personal information indirectly from the third party.
The Commissioner ordered the City to reconsider its decision to refuse access to the records.