VIC Disclosure of private information

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by Trulyruly, 23 May 2018.

  1. Trulyruly

    Trulyruly Member

    23 May 2018
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    Hello. My adult daughter did a shop at our local Cole's store. After leaving, she then went to another store in the complex & upon leaving the 2nd store was approached by Loss Prevention Officers from Cole's. He requested to check her bag (placed in her trolley). She complied & there were four chocolate bars she had forgotten to pay for. She offered to pay for the items she had forgotten, they refused. Whilst being questioned in Cole's office & after being advised she would be banned from their store for 12 months; my daughter then advised them of a store that she worked at (on a casual basis) within the complex & would she be able to attend same. They advised her she was only banned from their store, not the complex. Since then, she has had her employment terminated as the Loss Prevention Officers from Cole's approached her employer & told them what she had done.
    My question is: Did the Officer/s and/or Coles have the right to disclose this information volunteered to them?
    My daughter was understandably upset & did not have to mention the store name she worked for, but was feeling intimidated at the time. They have now used the information she supplied to sully her name and reputation. Is this a breach of the Privacy Act?
    Thank you for your time.
  2. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
    LawTap Verified

    27 May 2014
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    Your daughter's difficulty is twofold:

    1. Defamation.They are only telling the truth and truth is a defence to defamation.
    2. Loss of employment by employer. She is only a casual employee and not guaranteed shifts. This can be overcome in some circumstances but without a lot more detail it is not possible to comment.

    You daughter may have gotten off lightly as she could have been charged with theft.

    However, her privacy may well have been breached by Coles. You need to weigh up do you want to go after them for breach of privacy, with the stress of court action, and risk your daughter being charged for theft, or leave sleeping dogs lie?

    FYI, keeping a conviction for theft off a person's record can be important for future job opportunities.

    Your daughter has just learnt a life lesson whether she stole or forgot to pay.
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  3. DMLegal

    DMLegal Well-Known Member

    28 May 2018
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    I must say this surprises me quite a bit given while studying law many years ago I supported myself working as a loss prevention officer (LPO) for Coles, Woolworths etc. and it was repeatedly drilled into us not to speak about 'apprehensions' (industry term) to anyone. Indeed from what you have said, your daughter has a case.

    Rod is spot on that if what the LPO said was the 'truth', or the LPO reasonably believed it to be true, there is a defence to defamation. However, if you can establish that the LPO stated 'X stole from Coles' or 'X is banned from Coles as a consequence of stealing chocolate bars' you would have a fairly strong case given (I assume) your daughter was not charged or convicted of the offence.

    I would contact a lawyer, most law firms will assess the merits of your case in detail over the phone and you will get a better idea of where to go from there.

    Good luck!

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