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A leak of confidential information

A leak of confidential information (Last Updated On: July 4, 2017)

A former Queensland Government employee, who was accused of leaking confidential information to the media, has lost his unfair dismissal case and will not be reinstated to his former position.

Dr John Cronin was a veterinary officer with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry who had his employment terminated in 2013. His department believed he had spoken with journalists regarding the closures of an animal disease laboratory in Toowoomba, a breach of the Public Service Act.

Dr Cronin argued the real reason he was fired was due to the department discovering he was behind an anonymous tip off to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC), informing them of a biosecurity failure at another Government facility.

Whilst much of the evidence provided in the dismissal case was circumstantial, Dr Cronin’s breach of the Public Service Act by leaking information warranted his dismissal.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry claimed Dr Cronin used his work mobile and email to leak the information to the media. He was also accused of deleting information from the phone when he was asked to return it to the department, even though Dr Cronin suggested the deletions were accidental.

Dr Cronin did not deny that he met with journalists, but claimed he did not disclose confidential information that breached the Act.

The Commission ruled his dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable and found that the email to the CMC was not the reason for his dismissal. His dismissal was in fact due to his behaviour and conduct concerning the Government’s decision to close the Department’s facility in Toowoomba

Employers need to include a whistleblowing policy in their employee handbooks so that all workers are aware of the correct action to take, should they have concerns. Employees need to be aware that they will not suffer any detriment as a result of raising concerns. Dr Cronin also breached his company’s privacy policy which he would have been briefed on when he commenced his employment.  If you need help drafting and implementing your workplace policies and procedures, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415.

Sourced via the Brisbane Times

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