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Breach of Privacy?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by 1970devon, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    Hi, I am hoping some of you could give me your opinions please. Some may know my battles last year but in summary I was wrongly dismissed due to ill health by a new head. The union appealed and was rejected. School refused to concilliate through ACAS so the union started formal employment tribunal process. At the last minute we have now come to out of court settlement with which I am pleased. Had to negotiate reference etc. Have just been sent email from union solicitor and realise that a completely different (local) school's governing body has been copied into our correspondence about awards and references etc!! I really have no plan to return to teaching but what are the implications of this in your opinions? Is it something I should rightfully be upset about? Have emailed the solicitor to have a 'out of office' reply sent.
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I think it's undoubtedly a breach of the data protection act/GDPR. Let us know what the union solicitor says when you get a reply.
  3. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    Thanks. Will do. Just to clarify it is the solicitor that copied them in!
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    That's what I understood you to mean, interested first to see what they propose to do to remedy their breach of GDPR, they being a solicitor and all that...
  5. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Can I ask, which union?
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The solicitor had better sort it out! Jeez!
    Curae likes this.
  7. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    I've been NUT for 25plus years but obviously now the NEU.
  8. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    I am a huge union supporter and have called on their services twice in my teaching career. This last time has been a bit muddled to say the least but they seem very overstretched. They have obviously funded my legal battle and at times I've had 3 or 4 staff supporting me.
  9. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    I'm really unsure at how they can sort it out? The message was mailed on Tuesday and I have had no notification that my privacy has been breached which I'm assuming means the wrong recipient hasn't replied to alert the original sender? The solicitor is getting back to me early next week so will let you know what occurs.
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    As long as it doesn't go any further and as long as you had no plans to apply to that school anyway? It should be OK. They may not even have read it or retained it if they did read it.

    But that's up to the IT department of the solicitor to fix. Or threaten the school with legal action if they, in their turn, were to disclose anything.
    1970devon likes this.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The entire governing body, or just the chair/clerk?
    There could be a good reason...not sure what it could be though!
    Probably a simple mistake and they meant to send it to the GB of the school you have left.
    If you aren't planning to return to teaching, it shouldn't have any serious implications for you...but an apology and explanation, at the very least, ought to be forthcoming.
    Hope it works out.
  12. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    We had a sort of similar beach with our fostering agency. We complained to them and they sent the most ridiculous letter I have ever seen, containing factual mistakes and not addressing what had happened, with sentence structure that made no sense at all. We've complained to the ICO who are investigating. We weren't harmed (as far as I know), but if they did the same thing to another family the consequences could have been dire. They were stupid not to take our complaint seriously because it is going to look really terrible at their next inspection. I would definitely be looking for a grovelling apology, if for no other reason than to make them be more careful in future, when their actions could have seriously harmed someone.
    Curae likes this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Surely the various decisions which were made are additionally subject to a confidentiality clause on your part, and, it goes without saying, on their part.
    If it was the solicitors themselves who made the bungle, then they have breached the terms of whatever settlement was arrived at.
    So on this occasion I may not have actually contacted them, I would have taken it higher.
    It is likely that on instructing your solicitor, the first thing they would have sent you would have been their complaints procedure, or at least details of to whom they are accountable.
    Take it higher. Don't communicate with them.
    It's such a huge gaffe that you don't want to get embroiled with them saying "oops, my bad, here it is resent properly". You need to make a huge noise about it.
    Pursue for additional damages.
    I don't normally suggest this, but it is a monumental blunder. Think of the information given and the nature of the role of the recipients. Think of all possible communities involved. It's a really bad mistake. For one school to know the financial outcome of what you have been through is an eminently useful nugget which they don't normally get to work with.

    You may find an email footer in your legal correspondence, stating "this is intended only for the recipient, and if you receive it in error you must notify by return and delete" or something similar. If so, the wrong recipients ought to have responded to this. fwiw. But that's not to say they have not seen the information, just to say they cannot store it. Your solicitor might say this mitigates their mistake. It doesn't.
    Curae likes this.
  14. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    One of my fears when sending anything sensitive by email. I’m sure the recipient is feeling sick now knowing the potential gravitas of the situation. No doubt you feel awful too.
  15. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    You must always try complaining to your solicitor or firm first. In most cases you will not be able to take your complaint further—whether to the Legal Ombudsman or to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (see link below)—if you have not already done so.

    (This advice is from the SRA)

  16. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I'd kick off and squeeze a bit more money out of it!
  17. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The solicitors were OP's solicitors, not the other side's, so there is no breach of an SA and OP can't oursue them for "additional damages".

    Yes the solicitors must have a complaints procedure and if they do not resolve it OP could refer it to the Legal Ombudsman. But OP can't start by doing that. The Ombudsman requires you to attempt to resolve the matter between you and your solicitor first, before you can make an Ombudsman referral, and the solicitor has 8 weeks to do this.
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  18. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Lead commenter

    I would be more willing to let this go. My reason being they are your solicitors and so will be doing their best for you. Yes, they shouldn't have done it but it's a mistake that can happen and I would forgive on this occasion.
  19. 1970devon

    1970devon Occasional commenter

    Thanks all. I had a brief message from the union solicitor stating it is 'most unusual' and she had just sent reply to a message sent by the County / My ex employer solicitor. She will investigate further when in her office rather than on her phone........
    So I will see. I have asked for her to check previous correspondence and whether they were also party to any other information. If it is the fault of the other party's solicitor I may well take higher. If it is the fault of my union solicitor, an apology will probably suffice.
    The email does have the intended recipient footer so will be interested to know the other governing body's response.
    It has left me once again cross and agitated at a procedure that should never have got to this point! Although I have little plan currently to return to teaching so shouldn't be too damaging. It's the fact I have been told constantly that I cant discuss the terms of our agreement with anybody other than my husband that has annoyed me!
    Any way I will let you know their response in coming week. Thanks all
  20. Easyasabc

    Easyasabc Occasional commenter

    Its against your Data protection rights. Who chose to do this and why is the question? An innocent mistake or an act of intimidation?

    Either way I would chase it further - someone has messed up.
    1970devon likes this.

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