A Dutch worker for the Florida firm Chetu who was terminated for complaining about webcam surveillance at work from a remote location prevailed in court.
The employee was threatened with termination after refusing to provide screen sharing and webcam access for a full workday during a training session. Perhaps this was legal in Florida, where neither employees nor employers are obliged to provide notice or a cause for ending employment, but employment laws in other countries provide varying degrees of protection.
Documents released by the Court of Zeeland West-Brabant and available to the public state that the employee explained to the company:
To have a camera watching me for nine hours a day is not something I’m comfortable with. This is quite embarrassing and intrusive on my personal space. That’s why I haven’t turned on my camera. Now that I’m sharing my screen, you can see whatever I do on my laptop.
Employing a webcam for staff surveillance
Chetu terminated the employee’s contract the next day by email for reasons including the employee’s reluctance to work and their insubordination.
Ultimately, the court sided with the worker, ordering Chetu to pay the claimant $2,600 in back wages, $9,245 in worker transition assistance, and an additional $8,150 for wrongful contract termination. Totaling over $50,000, the fines included the equivalent of 23 days’ holiday pay, an 8% holiday allowance, and court and late payment costs.
Camera monitoring for nine hours a day, as stated by the court, is excessive and forbidden in the Netherlands. In addition, his laptop’s output had previously been verified by software. It goes on to say, “There was never any doubt that they would show up to work.”
The absence of both Chetu and the corporation from the hearing is noted, as is the lack of any statement or defence from the firm.
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