Confidential Letters of Reference

One type of document that can be included in your Personal File is a confidential letter of reference. The letters address a Member's performance and, unless otherwise stated by the author, will be kept confidential. In order for a letter of reference to be entered into a Personal File, however, the letters must be signed and dated. Letters that are not both signed and dated will either be returned to the author or destroyed. A Member is entitled to received a fair summary of the letters that are present in a Personal File or, in cases where more than three letters are present, the Member is entitled to either a fair summary and/or the names of authors.

Relevant Article: 9.05

9.05  Confidential Letters of Reference

         9.05.1  A Member's personal file shall include all confidential letters of reference pertaining to that Member.

         9.05.2  Unless otherwise designated by the author, all letters containing assessments of a Member's performance shall be deemed confidential. All confidential letters of reference shall be signed and dated by their authors; letters which are not signed and dated shall not enter a Member's personal file.

         9.05.3  When the President or Dean/University Librarian requests a confidential letter of reference, he/she shall inform the person requested of the provisions of this Article respecting disclosure of confidential information. Before confidential information is disclosed concerning letters of reference which have not been solicited by the President or Dean/University Librarian, he/she shall inform the author of the provisions of this Article. If the author requests in writing, or if the author does not respond, the unsolicited letter shall be destroyed or returned, whichever is more appropriate. Letters of assessment submitted by a Member for inclusion on his/her personal file shall be dealt with according to the provisions of Article 9.06.

A Member shall, upon written request, be given by the President or Dean/University Librarian the names of authors of the confidential letters of reference in his/her personal file, and/or a fair summary of the contents of those letters, except where fewer than three letters are involved, in which case only the fair summary shall be provided. In this context a fair summary may include quotations from or non-holographic reproduction of the letter itself. The President or Dean/University Librarian shall attempt to preserve confidentiality; however, the requirement of a fair summary shall take precedence over the need for confidentiality where there is a clear conflict between the two principles. The decision of the President or Dean/University Librarian respecting a fair summary and the manner of preservation of confidentiality shall be subject to interpretation in each instance if requested by the Member. The procedure for interpretation shall be as provided in Article 1, except that the purpose of interpretation shall be to determine whether the nature and extent of confidential information disclosed satisfies the criterion of a fair summary.

Any hearing committee as in Articles 24 and 25, or an arbitrator as in Articles 22 and 25, shall have the right to decide on questions of fair summary, as provided in Article 9.05.3.