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Teaching assistant at TMU entitled to see invoice, but not investigation report into sexual violence complaint: Privacy commissioner

by HR Law Canada

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) has been ordered to release a financial document to a former teaching assistant it fired, but the majority of records related to a sexual violence complaint under the university’s Sexual Violence Policy (SVP) remain exempt from disclosure.

This decision comes from an adjudication by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

The case stems from a request made by the appellant, a former TMU teaching assistant, seeking access to records concerning a complaint made against him under TMU’s SVP. He sought the Investigation Report, correspondence between university staff, and an invoice from an external investigator for services provided to the university.

The sexual violence complaint was upheld, affecting his future employment and volunteer opportunities at the university.

“The university states that the Dean determined that the allegations of sexual violence against the appellant were substantiated and in accordance with the SVP and the applicable employment contract and collective agreement, the appellant was terminated from his employment,” the adjudicator said.

“He was also deemed ineligible for any employment or volunteer opportunities for a specified time-period.”

TMU denied access to the records, claiming they were excluded under section 65(6)3 of FIPPA, which pertains to labour relations and employment-related matters.

The appellant contested TMU’s decision, arguing that the records should not be excluded as the complaint and investigation occurred after his employment had ended. However, TMU maintained that the records were intrinsically linked to the appellant’s former employment status and were used in managing its workforce.

In the decision, the adjudicator stated, “In my view that is sufficient to bring the remaining records at issue within the scope of the section 65(6)3 exclusion.”

The adjudicator found that all records, except for an invoice from the external investigator to the university, fell under the labour relations and employment-related matters exclusion, thus not subject to FIPPA.

However, the invoice was deemed subject to FIPPA, as it was considered only tangentially related to employment matters. The adjudicator ordered TMU to issue a new access decision regarding this invoice, treating the date of the order as the date of the original request.

For more information, see Toronto Metropolitan University (Re), 2024 CanLII 10148 (ON IPC).

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