This is evident from a recently made public decision of the Central Board of Appeal (CRB) and an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in The Hague.
Database of benefit recipients
The woman had worked at the Social Insurance Bank Rotterdam since 1995, where she was responsible for the treatment, assessment and payment of benefits.
In that position she had access to Suwinet, a database in which municipalities, the benefits agency UWV and the SVB, among other things, store their data on benefit claimants. From a sample in 2014, the suspicion arose that the woman was guilty of ‘peeking at the neighbors’.
A follow-up investigation showed that the SVB employee had requested confidential information no less than 350 times from residents at seven addresses in her street in Capelle aan den IJssel in a year and a half.
In a period of eight months, for example, she consulted the income data of her nearest neighbor no fewer than 116 times. The investigation also showed that the woman should not have had to see the files for her work.
After the discovery, the employee claimed that her behavior was the result of loyalty to the SVB. She would have wanted to investigate possible fraud in her area with access to the confidential data. That defense could not prevent her employer from firing the woman on the spot.
However, the woman was not satisfied with that. To challenge her dismissal, she went to court. And with success, because in 2017 the Court of Appeal of The Hague ruled that the SVB should not have fired the woman on the spot.
The court did not believe that the woman was investigating fraud in her neighborhood, but considered it likely that she had acted out of ‘pure curiosity’. In addition, own research would not have justified access to the data.
But although the woman had seriously misbehaved, according to the court, her employer was also partly responsible for the privacy violations. According to the court of appeal, the SVB should have better supervised its employees in handling confidential data.
The instant dismissal therefore had to make way for regular termination of employment, with modest severance pay.
Although the curious SVB employee did not get her job back, thanks to the court’s ruling, she was able to claim unemployment benefits. In the event of an instant dismissal, the chance of being granted unemployment benefits is very small.
But in the end the woman came home from a rude awakening. The UWV turned out not to be impressed by the court’s decision, and made its own assessment. According to the benefits agency, the woman blamed the dismissal on herself and thus forfeited her right to benefits.
Payment was allowed to refuse
The former employee of the SVB again went to court to challenge this decision. But this time she was blunt.
A recently made public ruling shows that the Central Board of Appeal ruled earlier this month that the UVW may make its own assessment. The benefits agency was allowed to refuse the woman benefits.
Leak as a basket
In 2015, the Suwinet benefits database was also discredited, when it turned out that the system with personal data of the municipalities, the SVB and the UWV was as leaky as a basket.