June 20, 2024

Unsuccessful job applicants have the right to know why their applications were declined; data office rules

3 min read
Unsuccessful job applicants have the right to know why their applications were declined; data office rules

Potential employees have a right to search details to know why an employer declined to offer them a job

Potential employees have a right to search details to know why an employer declined to offer them a job.

In a landmark judgment likely to jolt the labour sector, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) ruled that an employer is bound by the law to lift the veil of a job seeker’s background search if it turns out negative.

The ODPC was settling a dispute between a microfinance bank and a potential staff who failed to clinch a job.

In the case, a complainant lamented that the lender never explained why it did not hire him despite meeting all requirements.

Harrison Kisaka lodged a complaint with ODPC on April 17, 2023, and stated that Faulu Microfinance Bank Limited negatively used his personal data to discriminate against him from accessing a job opportunity.

Kisaka asked the data commissioner to compel the bank release the information it held against him. 

ODPC wrote to the bank requiring it to provide a response to the complaint and relevant evidence.

The office also directed Faulu to provide measures adopted to address the complaint, its data protection policy outlining the complaint handling mechanism to deal with issues arising from a data subject.

ODPC requested Faulu’s level of accuracy while retaining personal data and to give a written statement of its level of compliance with the Data Protection Act, 2019.

In his claim, Kisaka said Faulu refused to give him forms that contained his personal data which had been processed after he attended an interview.

He told ODPC he was interviewed twice by the bank and that he qualified as the best applicant for the said position, and during the interview, he signed a form that allowed the company to run background checks on him.

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“The complainant also claims that the consent forms explicitly specified that he could have a copy of the processed data as well as the source.”

He told the commission that since the obtained data was used against him, it was in his best interest to access a copy of the processed data and the source to allow him follow up for resolution.

Kisaka stated that he went to the bank’s offices on April 17, 2023, where he sought the information, but he was told by the Human Resource Department that it was private information.

On its part, Faulu said it did the search which “generated an adverse report on the character of the complainant” which prevented them from hiring him.

They said Kisaka visited their offices on April 17, and had an engagement with a staffer who informed him of an adverse report to his character.

They add that he became aggressive seeking to be provided with the report and even threatened legal action against them which prompted them to cease all communication with him.

Faulu told ODPC that the adverse report against Kisaka is related to a pending case.

The bank argued Kisaka knew about the issue, hence, there was no need to give him the physical report.

The issue for determination by ODPC was whether Kisaka’s rights had been infringed as provided for in the Data Protection Act, to which they found no evidence to support the claim.

They said by signing the consent form, he authorised Faulu to collect all data related to him.

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