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Dismissals based on covert CCTV footage upheld

The European Court of Human Rights has held that installing covert CCTV to monitor workplace theft did not violate employees' Article 8 privacy rights.

The fact that the employer had not informed the employees in advance of the existence of the cameras was merely one factor to be taken into account. Others included the employee’s limited expectation of privacy on a shop floor, the limited duration of the monitoring, the small number of people involved, and the fact that telling staff about the cameras could have jeopardised the prospect of catching the thieves. The employer had acted within their margin of discretion in holding the intrusion to be proportionate and the dismissals to be fair.

The court also unanimously upheld its previous decision that use of the footage in evidence before an employment tribunal had not violated the right to a fair hearing under Article 6, as it had not undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole. The CCTV footage had not been the only evidence relied on and, moreover, its authenticity had not been disputed.

López Ribalda and others v Spain (Application nos. 1874/13 and 8567/13)

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