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International Employment Law Update

April 2016, Covington Alert


Right to Private Life v. Right to Monitor
On January 12, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights published its judgment in another case concerning an employee’s use of company information systems, once again highlighting the challenge of balancing an employee’s right to a private life against the right of an employer to monitor employees at work.

In Barbulescu v. Romania the employee had been using a Yahoo! instant messenger account set up specifically for work purposes to communicate with his fiancée and brother, despite this being in breach of company policy. Agreeing with the national court, the Court distinguished this case from previous cases where employees had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace, and held that the employer had acted reasonably in monitoring the employee’s use of the Yahoo! instant messenger account, and ultimately terminating his employment.

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