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May 2021

Unauthorised accessing of customer information is a valid reason for dismissal

Unauthorised accessing of customer information is a valid reason for dismissal

The Case

Dinov v Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd T/A ANZ Bank (2021)

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) employed Ms Dinov on a parttime basis. Ms Dinov used the ANZ software to gain unauthorised access to the bank accounts of her brother, a work colleague and a celebrity. Ms Dinov was not authorised to access the accounts without the account-holder’s approval or an appropriate business reason.

The allegations were put to Ms Dinov who denied them and claimed that another employee had conducted the searches using her password. ANZ thereafter terminated Ms Dinov’s employment.

Ms Dinov lodged a claim for unfair dismissal with the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

The Verdict

At hearing, Ms Dinov alleged ANZ had created bank accounts to support its reason for employment termination. Ms Dinov also claimed that if any bank accounts had been unlawfully accessed, another employee had done it using her password.

Ms Dinov’s submissions were rejected on the basis that:

  • each time an unauthorised search was conducted, Ms Dinov was the only consistent employee at work;
  • the unauthorised searches were conducted a short time after valid searches by Ms Dinov; and
  • Ms Dinov was required to change her password every 60 days.

The FWC found Ms Dinov was entrusted with highly sensitive and personal information, and the breach made the continuance of her employment impossible.

The FWC held that Ms Dinov had been lawfully dismissed.

The Lessons

In industries that deal with highly confidential information and personal customer information, it is important to have clearly communicated policies in place that mandate how confidential information is to be handled by employees and clearly outline the reasons for accessing the information.

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