CCTV In The Workplace: An Uncandid Camera That Ended Up In A Court Of Law*

Author:Ms Rita Bettencourt
Profession:Coelho Ribeiro e Associados

The story takes place in a medium-sized company, and the central characters are an office employee (Ms. A) who has a romantic relationship with a co-worker, an overconfident employer (company B), and an illegal video surveillance system.

Ms. A and her co-worker seized a number of opportunities to give vent to their feelings inside the premises of company B. It turns out that these intimate moments were recorded by the video surveillance system of the company, and, without the consent or knowledge of the couple, that footage was involuntarily shared with the employer.

At some stage, the manager of company B confronts Ms. A with the existence of this footage and allegedly drives her to resign.

Ms. A counterattacks and takes the decision to terminate the employment contract with just cause, for violation of her fundamental rights and guarantees.

Both courts of first instance and appeal gave reason to Ms. A. and sentenced company B to pay her a compensation.

According to the facts found proven by the Court:

Ms. A worked as an office employee for Company B for about 15 years; On a not ascertained date, Company B installed in its premises a video surveillance system; The placement of the system was witnessed by Ms. A and other employees; Through this equipment, for several months, the employer recorded images inside the rooms of the company, including activities of sexual nature performed by Ms. A and another co-worker, during and after her working hours; The video surveillance system was installed without prior authorization of the Portuguese Data Protection Authority (hereinafter CNPD); At some point in 2010, the company manager had a meeting with Ms. A and told her that he had footage of intimate encounters inside the premises of the company; Following this communication, the Employer initiated disciplinary proceedings against Ms. A, based on those facts and sent her an offence report, by post; On the same date that the company sends the said offence report, Ms. A delivers the employer a letter of termination of her employment contract with immediate effect and just cause. In brief and inter alia, Ms. A alleges serious violations of her legal guarantees, offence to her moral integrity, freedom and honour and says she was victim of "sexual-oriented behaviours, which determined her freedom, honour and dignity (...) due to the fact that the employer caught her on video at her workplace and during her resting periods, furthermore...

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