Dutch Judge Backs Worker Told to Keep Webcam on All Day

Court cites human rights decision in ruling against employer
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2022 7:10 PM CDT
Dutch Court: Watching Worker All Day Is a Privacy Breach
   (Getty Images/Peter Horrox)

An employee of a US software company, when told to keep his webcam on all day, pointed out that he already was sharing his screen, and that his boss could monitor everything he was doing on his laptop. He argued that being watched on top of that seemed like an invasion of privacy, Gizmodo reports. "I don't feel comfortable being monitored for 9 hours a day by a camera," said the employee, who was based in the Netherlands. The company, Chetu, rejected his argument and fired him, giving the reasons as insubordination and a refusal to work. But a judge was won over on the privacy issue.

"Instruction to leave the camera on is contrary to the employee's right to respect for his private life," the court wrote in a decision that cited a 2017 European Court of Human Rights ruling. The opinion in that case said that video surveillance, "be it covert or not, must be considered as a considerable intrusion into the employee's private life." The court said it saw no refusal to work, per the Verge, and ordered the Florida company to pay the worker, who was not identified, more than $70,000. Chetu did not send anyone to contest the suit and did not immediately comment on the decision.

It might have been a different story if the case had been decided in Florida, where employers have broad leeway in firing, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that's not where the employee brought the complaint. "Tracking via camera for 8 hours per day is disproportionate and not permitted in the Netherlands," the decision said. (More surveillance stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.