Case Note 210106 [2010] NZ PrivCmr 14: Woman seeks access from former employer to content of verbal reference

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The complainant applied for a job, and gave permission for her former manager to be contacted for a reference. She did not get the job, and believed that this was because her former manager had given a negative reference. She asked her former manager for details of the reference but they refused, saying that it had been a verbal reference, and nothing had been written down.Under principle 6 of the Privacy Act individuals are entitled to have access to personal information that is held about them. Personal information’ is defined in the Privacy Act as information about an identifiable individual’. It is not limited to information that is written down or recorded electronically, and can in certain circumstances include information that is held only in the mind of an employee. An individual’s right to access information under principle 6 is not an absolute right, and an agency can refuse to…