By Western Standard
Published:October 11, 2021
A rude tax collector with the Canada Revenue Agency had her suspension overturned, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
“I can call anyone to get information,” said tax collector Sharon Gordon to a customer.
The language was blunt, but did not warrant discipline, a federal labour board adjudicator ruled.
“A tax collector’s job is not easy,” wrote Nancy Rosenberg, an adjudicator with the Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
“When you are dealing with people’s money it is natural and understandable that they sometimes get upset.”
Gordon, a tax collector at the CRA’s Saint John office, was reprimanded in 2015 after a supervisor overheard her phone call with a taxpayer late in payments.
Gordon spoke with the woman briefly as a “courtesy call,” then asked for her husband’s phone number at work.
“She thanked me for the courtesy call, but stated I had no business asking about her husband,” Gordon wrote in her account of the phone call.
“I advised her that I can call anyone to get information regarding any of my clients.”
“She stated she would speak with her lawyer about this I said, ‘Yes, you should do that,’ and that was the end of the call. I stated, ‘Have a nice day.’”
A supervisor who overheard the call reprimanded Gordon for her brusque manner and disclosing confidential information, namely that the husband was also delinquent in his taxes.
Gordon was suspended eight days.
“I don’t feel I did anything wrong,” said Gordon.
“If there is a policy that says I can’t ask for the husband’s number then I need to know. My understanding is we can get information from others to locate a client.”
The board overturned the suspension, saying CRA rules were not clear and the supposed disclosure of confidential information was unconvincing, wrote Rosenberg.
“To say that an agent can call the home of two spouses, both of whom owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency, and safely leave a message for either of them as long as the agent does not say that he or she is from collections is disingenuous,” wrote Rosenberg.
“It is understandable in a large organization like the Canada Revenue Agency its many policies and procedures are sometimes inconsistent, ambiguous, outdated or simply fail to cover every eventuality. These gaps or inconsistencies tend to come to light when something untoward happens. When that occurs, management has a choice: take a disciplinary approach to the employee who inadvertently stumbled into the gap or take a hard look at the policy and fix it.