The man subjected to a roadside bleach attack has been fired
from his job at Northland Regional Council after going public
about a bungled ACC report.
Mike Nager, of Kerikeri, was driving to Whangarei on June 10
last year when he pulled over for a car flashing its lights
behind him. An unknown attacker threw bleach in his eyes,
slashed his face with a knife, then felled him with a punch
to the chest.
Mr Nager had been on his way to court to give evidence
against two men in an environmental court case.
He initially returned to work but has been on sick leave
since October and is currently on ACC. He had been planning a
return to his role as an environmental monitoring officer,
but said his chances had been scuppered after ACC sent the
council a Stay at Work report which was inaccurate and
contained confidential medical information.
ACC rewrote the report and apologised but the council refused
to destroy all copies of the original.
Mr Nager took his concerns about ACC and his employer's
actions to the Northern Advocate, which published a story on
March 15. On Monday morning Mr Nager was informed his
employment had been terminated as of March 19.
He has already lodged a complaint with the Privacy
Commissioner and is in the process of taking a case for
unjustified dismissal, among other things, to the Employment
Regional council chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said he
could not comment on staff-related issues.
ACC has confirmed the original report was incorrect and has
also sought its return from the council.
However, an ACC spokeswoman said it did not contain
information that would not normally be shared with an
That is disputed by ACC advocate Alex Taylor, who said he
could not imagine a worse privacy breach.
The report, which detailed medications and the psychological
effects of the attack, had "hopelessly compromised" Mr
Nager's ability to go back to his job or even find other work
in the same field, Mr Taylor said.
It was not the first time medical information had been
wrongly released to an employer but it was the worst case he
Mr Taylor, who is handling Mr Nager's case, said it was
unusual for an employer to refuse to destroy information
released in error, but ACC had put the council in an awkward
position. No employer should have to grapple with ethics of
acting on information it was not supposed to have, he said.
Mr Taylor said he had seen evidence that the council's stance
on Mr Nager's employment had changed after receiving the
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner does not comment on
specific cases. Its advice for anyone who finds private
information, or receives it in error, is to return it to the
agency it came from.
- By Peter de Graaf of the Northern Advocate