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Employee fired for refusing all-day webcam, company fined $73K

Florida company tries to get away with making an employee keep their webcam on for 9 hours straight. (Hint, doesn’t turn well).

Employee looking confused at their laptop

With remote work becoming more available among employees, employers are implementing new rules and regulations to keep up with them. Among the more controversial is requiring workers to be tracked by various devices during work hours or training. This new way of keeping track has caused a lot of issues, making some feel awkward, pressured, or downright invaded of their privacy.  Last month, a court ruled that a remote employee working for a US-based company, Chetu, was owed $73,000 for a violation of his privacy.

The employee worked remotely out of The Netherlands and was set to start training when the company asked him to keep his webcam on ALL DAY. Yes, all day. The training program was set to last nine hours, and the employee told Chetu that he didn’t feel comfortable being monitored for that period of time. 

He went on to tell the company that monitoring him for nine hours is an invasion of his privacy and makes him feel uncomfortable, in which he also decided not to turn his camera on. The unnamed employee also stated in court documents that Chetu was already monitoring activities on his laptop AND he was sharing his screen. 

Three days later, the employee was fired for alleged “refusal to work.” He wasn’t having this, and took Chetu to court in The Netherlands, stating that he wasn’t given an urgent reason to justify the dismissal that was given and that the company demanding he keep his webcam on is a violation of his privacy rights. 

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The Dutch court sided with the employee, agreeing that his firing wasn’t legally valid. The court referred to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states: “Strict conditions are attached to observing employees.” They also ruled that the company had to pay the former employee 50,000 euros in fair compensation, 2,700 euros in unpaid earnings, 8,373.13 euros for wrongful termination, and his unpaid holiday allowance, according to the court documents.

It’s important to note that if this employee were living in the US, this issue would have probably fallen under right-to-work laws, which claim that employees work at will and can be fired at any time.

Macie LaCau is a passionate writer, herbal educator, and dog enthusiast. She spends most of her time overthinking and watering her tiny tomatoes.

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