An employee of a US company was fired for refusing to leave his webcam on at work. He has since been compensated for his expulsion.
Diessen – He probably didn’t expect that: In the Netherlands, a remote employee of the US company Chetu was fired because he refused to leave the camera on while working. As reported by NL Times , the Dutchman had already worked for the software company for more than a year and a half before he was ordered to take part in a virtual training session at the end of August. He was told that during this period he must remain logged in throughout the workday with screen sharing on and his webcam enabled. The training was called a “corrective action program”.
After receiving the invitation to the training program, the telemarketer became skeptical – and emailed the company. “I don’t feel comfortable being monitored by a camera nine hours a day. This is an invasion of my privacy and I feel very uncomfortable. You can already monitor all activities on my laptop and I share my screen.” His objection had consequences: just a few days later he was dismissed without notice for “refusal to work” and “disobedience”.
Court rules: dismissal is disproportionate
The employee did not want to let his resignation stand and filed a lawsuit in court a few weeks later. He firmly believed that there was no compelling reason to justify his dismissal without notice. He stressed that the termination was disproportionate and that asking him to leave his webcam on violated privacy laws.
The court was also able to confirm that the termination was not legally valid. “The employer did not state the reasons for the dismissal clearly enough,” it judged. “Furthermore, there was no evidence of refusal to work, nor adequate instruction. Instruction to keep the camera on violates the worker’s right to respect for his or her private life.”
Employer argues against court – but loses the lawsuit
Instead, Chetu argued that the webcam was nothing more than if the worker had been in the office and been observed by management. The district court found it unlikely that Chetu intended to store the webcam images and stated that privacy was not the relevant issue. Instead, it argued that the plaintiff’s privacy had been infringed upon.
Overall, the court sentenced Chetu to a total of 75,000 euros, which the company must pay the man. This includes unpaid salary, compensation for unlawful dismissal, transitional allowance and additional compensation. Also included in the total are additional payments for 23 unused vacation days, the statutory vacation allowance of eight percent and an additional penalty for not submitting a payslip. But that’s not all: Chetu also has to pay for the plaintiff’s court costs and attorney’s fees as well as the default interest.