European Court Of Human Rights

ECHR rules that companies can monitor employees’ online communications during work hours.

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In a recent case about online communications during working hours, the ECHR has ruled in favour of a company dismissing an employee in 2007 for violating a company policy with regards to the prohibited use of Yahoo messenger during working hours for personal use.
The employee, an engineer was noted to have been chatting to his grilfriend was fired by the company and he challenged his employer in the high court. The decision was made in Strasbourg after he initially lost his case in Romania. Mr Barbulescu argued that his dismissal was a violation of his rights to private correspondance, he was informed that they had monitored him during the course of several days and a 45 page transcript was found to have a number of messages which he had exchanged with his fianceé.
On Tuesday (12th Jan 2016), the ECHR ruled in favour of the company stating that it is not “unreasonable for an employer to want to verify that the employees are completing their professional tasks during working hours” and that Mr Barbulescu had not “convincingly explained why he had used the Yahoo messenger account for personal purposes.”

An important part of this ruling is that the court allowed the company to use the actual transcripts of communication against him in court saying that it “proved that he had used the company’s computer for his own private purposes during working hours.”

Because this ruling was in the European Union, it sets a precedence and may be used as a guide in future cases.

Posted in Data Protection, Regulations and tagged , .