A Dutch employee of a U.S. firm with a branch in The Netherlands refused to be monitored during a full workday. The consequences were that the employee was fired for ‘refusal to work’ and ‘insubordination’. In a lawsuit a Dutch court awarded the employee with €75,000 for wrongful termination.
The employee began working for the U.S. firm in 2019. A year and a half later, he was ordered to take part in a virtual training period, which was called the ‘Corrective Action Program’. During this program he was told to remain logged in for the entire day, including screen-sharing turned on and to have his webcam activated.
The employee did not feel comfortable with being monitored for a full workday and claims it was an invasion of privacy. He agreed on having the activities on his laptop being monitored and to share his screen, but he refused to activate the webcam. Thereinafter, he was fired.
The court concluded that the termination was not legally valid, because the reasons for dismissal were not made clear enough, nor were there reasonable instructions. The instructions definitely did not respect the employee’s right to respect for his private life (article 8 the European Convention on Human Rights) according to the court.
Many organizations do not realize the ‘right to privacy’ is a fundamental right in the European Economic Area (EEA). When having business operations in the EEA, it is essential to respect this at all times. This may be in conflict with for example more flexible workplace privacy practices in the U.S.
It is therefore important to make sure your organization is aware and informed when doing business in the EEA. Contact us for all of your privacy related questions via: firstname.lastname@example.org.