The BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Commissioner has found that the signing of a contractual release and waiver in favour of a public body did not preclude an applicant from making a subsequent access request for records related to him, or excuse the public body from responding.
In Inquiry Re: Malaspina University-College Records, Order 00-47, October 19, 2000, the public body had been involved in an employment-related dispute with the applicant. As part of a settlement agreement, the applicant executed a release in favour of the College in a standard form.
Subsequent to executing the release, the applicant sought two records that had been written about him by College staff. In response, the College took the position that the applicant had waived his rights under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as a result of his execution of the Release.
In its decision, the Commissioner found that an applicant could not effectively agree to waive his statutory rights under FOIPPA. To give the release the effect sought by the public body would, in the view of the Commissioner, be contrary to public policy.
As a result, employers should be aware that releases will not preclude individuals from seeking access to records under the terms of the FOIPPA. This may well be significant in cases where an employer has accumulated a significant number of records regarding the applicant.