The employee was reportedly told to remain logged in for the entire workday with screen-sharing and his webcam turned on.
A Dutch man who was reportedly fired from his job for refusing to keep his webcam on was awarded $73,000 by a court for wrongful termination. According to NL Times, the resident of Diessen, Noord-Brabant, in the Netherlands began working for the Florida-based software development company, Chetu, in January 2019. More than a year and a half into his time at the company, on August 23 this year, he was ordered to take part in a virtual training period called a "Corrective Action Program." The employee—who wasn't named in the lawsuit—was reportedly told that he would have to remain logged in for the entire workday with screen-sharing and his webcam turned on for the duration of the training program.
Requiring remote staff to keep webcam on constitutes a human rights violation, a Dutch court found in a ruling against a U.S. company— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 10, 2022
The company has been ordered to pay a worker $73,000 after the company fired him for refusing to keep his webcam onhttps://t.co/nlNzHAJlub
According to court documents filed in the Netherlands—where the case was heard—the employee informed the company that he didn't "feel comfortable being monitored for 9 hours a day" through the camera. "This is an invasion of my privacy and makes me feel really uncomfortable. that's the reason why my camera isn't on. You can already monitor all activities on my laptop and I am sharing my screen," he is said to have told Chetu. Three days later, on August 26, the employee was reportedly fired for "refusal to work" and "insubordination."
‘A remote employee of a U.S. business who was fired for refusing to leave his webcam on while he was working was awarded roughly 75,000 euros by a Dutch court for wrongful termination.’ https://t.co/wYLP4bYBJ6 Judgment: https://t.co/tJIWNw7jhe— Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (@fborgesius) October 9, 2022
The man then took Chetu to court in the Zeeland-West Brabant court in Tilburg claiming that "there was no urgent reason given to justify the immediate dismissal given." He also alleged that his termination was disproportionate and pointed out that the demand to leave his webcam turned on all day was unreasonable and violated data privacy rules. In its ruling last week, the Dutch court agreed that the termination was not legally valid. "The employer has not made it clear enough about the reasons for the dismissal. Moreover, there has been no evidence of a refusal to work, nor was there a reasonable instruction. Instruction to leave the camera on is contrary to the employee's right to respect for his private life," the court said.
Good to see a win for the people! Employee privacy is important and not always respected. Be sure to set Startpage as your default on your work device. https://t.co/aKZ8U5Kynr— Startpage (@startpage) October 11, 2022
Meanwhile, Chetu argued that the requirement for employees to keep their webcams on was "no different" than if the employee had been present in the office being directly observed by others. However, the court cited Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which says "strict conditions are attached to observing employees." It also referred to a European Court of Human Rights' judgment in a 2017 case "that video surveillance of an employee in the workplace, be it covert or not, must be considered as a considerable intrusion into the employee's private life."
The court ultimately ruled that Chetu has to pay the former employee €2,700 (about $2,629) in unpaid salary, €50,000 (about $48,691) in fair compensation and €8,373.13 (about $8,126) for wrongful termination. Furthermore, the company was also ordered to pay its former employee for 23 vacation days that were not taken, the 8% statutory holiday allowance, and possibly an additional penalty for failure to provide a payslip for August.
I've taped over the camera every since they started putting them in laptops. LOL. I would certainly never allow a company to have a camera in my home. — Maison Belle (@MaisonBelle19) October 10, 2022