A Manchester man is suing his former employer, the UK's largest government department, claiming "highly private" information was divulged to his workmates.
Aftab Marchant is reportedly seeking £50,000 in damages from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for distress and personal injury caused by what he describes as a breach of data protection and privacy laws.
Marchant, who worked in a DWP contact centre in Manchester, alleges that a superior sent an email containing sensitive medical information – which he had asked to remain private – to a colleague, with 10 others copied in.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Marchant only discovered the leak when returned to work from a period of annual leave and a colleague mentioned it to him.
Marchant's counsel, Nick McAleenan, a partner and data privacy law specialist at JMW Solicitors, told the paper: "This case concerns a serious breach of confidentiality and misuse of our client's private and very personal information.
"Our client was devastated that extremely private and confidential information relating to him and his family was disclosed without his consent."
The former staffer holds the DWP liable for the conduct of its employee, and is claiming for distress and anxiety caused by the leak, saying the "breach and its impact were an absolute nightmare".
He has also claimed that it is a breach of the Data Protection Act and privacy and confidentiality laws.
The Evening News reported that the Information Commissioner's Office has been told about the incident.
A DWP spokesperson said: "We cannot comment on an ongoing legal case. We take complaints seriously and have a rigorous process in place to handle them." ®