On February 16th, the Alberta OIPC held that a retailer’s practice of conducting credit checks in the process of hiring sales associates violated the Alberta PIPA.
The retailer used the checks as part of a comprehensive retail security program. It argued they were justified based on two purposes:
- To assess how applicants will handle financial responsibilities and tasks associated with their employment duties
- To assess whether applicants have a probable risk of in-store theft or fraud
The OPIC held that these purposes did not justify the collection of credit related information. The OPIC’s reasoning is as broad or broader than its reasoning in a 2005 credit check case in which it reached the same conclusion. This suggests that Alberta’s private sector employers will need special circumstances to conduct credit checks on prospective employees.
Hat tip to David Fraser.