Requiring employees to turn on their cameras is a human rights violation, Dutch court rules • TechCrunch

When Florida-based Chetu hired a telemarketer in the Netherlands, the company asked the employee to turn on the webcam. The employee was not happy about being monitored “for 9 hours a day” in a program that involved screen sharing and streaming his webcam. When he refused, he was fired, according to public court documents (in Dutch), for what the company called “refusal to work” and “insubordination.” The Dutch court, however, disagreed and ruled that “instructions to keep the webcam on go against the respect of employees’ privacy. In its verdict, the court goes so far as to suggest that the webcam monitoring requirement is a violation of human rights.

“I don’t feel comfortable being watched for 9 hours a day by a camera. This is an invasion of my privacy and makes me really uncomfortable. This is why my camera is not on,” the unnamed employee’s communication to Chetu states in the court document. The employee suggests that the company was already monitoring him, “You can already monitor all the activities on my laptop and I’m sharing my screen.”

According to court documents, the company’s response to that message was to fire the employee. That may have worked in an at-will state like Chetu’s home state of Florida, but it turns out that labor laws work a little differently in other parts of the world. The employee took Chetu to court for unfair dismissal and the court ruled in his favor, which includes payment of the employee’s court costs, back wages, a $50,000 fine and an order to remove the employee’s non-compete clause. The court ruled that the company must pay the employee’s wages, unused vacation days, as well as a number of other expenses.

“Surveillance by camera for 8 hours a day is disproportionate and is not allowed in the Netherlands,” the court found in its verdict and further confirms that such surveillance is against the human rights of workers, quoting from the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. “(…) the video surveillance of an employee in the workplace, whether covert or not, must be regarded as a significant invasion of the employee’s privacy (…), and therefore [the court] considers that it constitutes interference within the meaning of Article 8 [Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms].”

Chetu, in turn, was apparently a no-show for the court case.

Via NL Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *