Surveillance Cameras and Privacy at Work

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In Lopez Ribalda & Ors v Spain, the European Court of Human Rights held that covert surveillance in the workplace did breach the employees concerned right to privacy (contained in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights)

In this case, a supermarket had been experiencing theft and subsequently installed some surveillance cameras. Workers were informed of the visible cameras aimed at possible customer thefts, but were not told about others that had been placed covertly, aimed at recording possible employee thefts

The covert images enabled the supermarket to dismiss several employees. Some of the employees concerned alleged that there was a breach of Article 8.

A Spanish court found that the covert surveillance was justified and appropriate in this situation. However, the European Court of Human Rights did not agree. It considered that the Spanish court had failed to strike a fair balance between the rights involved. It was relevant that the covert video surveillance was not targeted at particular individuals and as such, it filmed all staff. Further, there was no time limit attached to the surveillance as it filmed staff over a period of weeks and during all working hours.

Written by
Lorraine Emery
7th February 2018