In today´s grand Chamber judgment in the case of Lopez Ribalda and others vs Spain the ECHR held, by 14 votes to three, that there has been no violation of article 8 of the ECHR. With this judgment the court changes its own criteria about the legitimacy of surveillance in the workplace.
Is it legitimate to install a CCTV system, where both visible and hidden cameras are placed in order to monitor employees when there are high suspicious grounds of theft?
Well, this answer in any case needs a case by case study.
The court had held that domestic courts (Spanish courts) had correctly identified the interests at stake. Namely, the right to respect employee’s private life and the right of the employer’s company´s interest in protecting its property and the smooth running of its operations.
The installation of hidden cameras, in this particular case, it has been found to be justified but the suspicion of theft. Of course, there has been noted that the hidden cameras where not placed on high private places (such as toilets or cloakrooms) but in places accessible to the general public.
The intrusion into employee’s privacy had not attained a high degree of seriousness due to the surveillance has only lasted 10 days and a restricted number of people had viewed the recordings.
Furthermore, the court notes that the videos had only been used for the purpose of trace those responsible for the losses.
There´s a widespread international consensus that the subjects might be informed of the monitoring. Nonetheless, the courts held that a reasonable suspicion of serious misconduct and weighted losses could act as an enough justification.
In light of the aforementioned the domestic courts, had not overstepped their margin of appreciation and so for there had been no violation of article 8.
Despite of the above, there had been three separate opinions.