Fired for turning off his webcam, he receives a reprimand from his boss

Fired for turning off his webcam, he receives a reprimand from his boss

Can your employer force you to turn on your webcam while you’re teleworking? A court in the Netherlands partially answered the question by ordering the employer to pay damages and interest to its former employee. The latter was reportedly fired for refusing to film his webcam for 9 hours a day. NL Times, Sunday, October 9. Facts would have happened in 2019. The Dutchman, who lives in Diessen, Netherlands, was hired by an American software development company called Rijswijk de Sade Inc. Everything goes well until a mandatory training that lasts for several months, several days. Throughout this training, he is asked to stay connected during office hours with screen sharing and his webcam activated.

Two days later, the employee, who felt more than uncomfortable, explained to his management that “I felt like I was being watched by a camera 9 hours a day. It was an invasion of my privacy.” He explains that this is why his camera won’t activate. He adds that his administration “already monitors all the activity on my laptop,” and, he shares his screen very well. Later on August 26 the employee was immediately terminated for “refusal to work” and “incontinence”. He later challenged his dismissal in a Dutch court. The dismissal would be disproportionate and the demand to turn on his webcam would be unreasonable as it would violate data privacy rules.

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“The shadowing of workers is subject to strict conditions”

The judges partially agreed with him, holding that the impeachment was invalid. After all, he asserts, “asking the camera to be turned on is against the employee’s right to respect for their private life.” Sethu, for his part, explained the argument that what would have happened had the webcam and the worker been in the office and observed by the management was no different.

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“Employee monitoring is subject to strict conditions,” the judges recalled. Hence the demand to keep the camera active is an “unreasonable invasion of the complainant’s right to privacy”. The company was ordered to pay 75,000 euros to its former employee.

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