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ECtHR rules employee’s privacy breached in monitoring of personal communications.


Case of Barbulescu v Romania 61496/08  


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that an employee’s right to a private life was breached by his employer monitoring his use of electronic communications.


A Romanian engineer was dismissed from his employment for exchanging personal messages on his professional Yahoo messenger account.  The company’s rules prohibited such use.  The employee argued before the national courts and the ECtHR that the personal messages should have been protected by his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).  The ECtHR originally ruled that the employer had a legitimate right to monitor the messages.


However, on appeal, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR stated that the national courts had failed to determine the specific reasons justifying the employer’s monitoring measures and whether the employer could have used less intrusive measures on the employee’s private life.  The Grand Chamber concluded that the national courts had consequently failed to strike a fair balance between the employee’s life to a private life and his employer’s right to ensure company rules were being adhered to. 


An article from the UK Human Rights Blog can be read here.  

Employment Law