Data Protection

German Regional Labor Court rules: Employer’s evidence of employee‘s breach of contractual duties admissible even though employer has violated data protection law when obtaining it LAG Baden-Wuerttemberg, ruling dated 6 June 2018 – 21 Sa 48/17 Appeal filed with the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht), docket no. 2 AZR 426/18

With its judgment dated 6 June 2018 (docket number 21 Sa 48/17), the Higher Regional Labor Court of Baden-Wurttemberg (Landesarbeitsgericht Baden-Württemberg) found that an employer may use evidence proving an employee’s breach of a contractual duty against the employee, even though the evidence had only been accidentally discovered during a search of the employee’s IT-equipment. The court decided that the evidence could still be used, even if the original search itself was inadmissible pursuant to data protection regulations. However, use of such evidence shall be limited to scenarios in which the violation of the employees’ general right of privacy does …

German Regional Labor Court rules: Employer’s evidence of employee‘s breach of contractual duties admissible even though employer has violated data protection law when obtaining it LAG Baden-Wuerttemberg, ruling dated 6 June 2018 – 21 Sa 48/17 Appeal filed with the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht), docket no. 2 AZR 426/18 Read More »

Employee data protection: Notification of private mobile phone number to employer

The Higher Labor Court of Thuringia decided that the processing of an employee’s private mobile phone number against his will is an extremely serious interference with the employee’s personal rights and was not justified in the specific case (decision on 16 May 2018 – docket number 6 Sa 442/17). Therefore, the warning issued in this context was ineffective. The employee works for the district in the area of hygiene and infection protection. In the employee’s area of responsibility, hazards could arise which make it necessary to act outside working hours. Until the end of 2016, this was ensured and organized …

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Legal Useability of Recordings from Open Video Surveillance

By its decision of 23 August 2018 the Federal Labor Court (docket number 2 AZR 133/18) facilitated video surveillance at the workplace. Legally and openly created recordings do not have to be deleted by the employer within a few days. According to the Federal Labor Court, they can be evaluated several months later. Under data protection law employers are in principle entitled to use video cameras to publicly monitor accessible sales areas in order to protect themselves against criminal offences. The purpose of such video surveillance does not have to be exclusively to prevent crimes committed by customers. Rather, the …

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force

On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force harmonizing the regulations for the processing of personal data by companies and public authorities within the EU. Under the GDPR, employees’ data protection rights are significantly reinforced. Infringement of the GDPR regulations may now result in high administrative fines of up to 20 million euros or up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year. Therefore employers are urgently advised to ensure compliance with the GDPR. Particularly, the common practice of obtaining an employee’s individual consent to the processing of their personal …

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Demonstrating readiness to work every three minutes is unreasonable

On 10 August 2017 the Labour Court of Berlin stated that it is unreasonable to require a taxi driver to press a button at short intervals of time in order to control the employee’s readiness to work (judgement of the Berlin Labour Court dated 10 August 2017, docket number 41 Ca 12115/16). The employee works as a taxi driver for a taxi company. During those periods of time when he was not driving the taxi but waiting for the next fare, he was instructed by his employer to press a button every three minutes after the occurrence of a certain …

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Inadmissible evidence through installation of a keylogger

Using a software keylogger may not always be much help in supporting a termination for cause, as a recent case before the Federal Labour Court shows (judgment dated 27 July 2017, docket number 2 AZR 681/16). The employee had worked for the employer since 2011. When opening up its network, the company informed employees that internet and software use would be monitored. The company monitored keyboard use and also produced screenshots regularly. As a result of this, the company noticed that the employee had spent considerable parts of his working time on private use of the network. The company therefore …

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The Works Council’s right of co-determination regarding the Employer’s Facebook presence

The German Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) decided on 13 December 2016 that the Works Council has a right of co-determination when the employer’s Facebook page allows other users to post comments, which are related to the behaviour and performance of the employees. The employer operates a blood donor service. The doctors working at the blood donation events and all other employees wear name tags during their work. The employer’s Facebook page was established as a marketing strategy and gives users the option of posting comments. Some comments were made in relation to the staff’s behaviour and performance. The Works Council …

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Background checks aka pre-employment screenings in Germany

Many companies refuse to settle for the information provided by the applicant on job applications and in personal interviews. So-called background checks (also known as “pre-employment screenings”) therefore enjoy great popularity among employers in the US and the UK as a measure to investigate the potential employee’s background. This screening may be conducted by the company’s own staff, or, increasingly, by third party companies that specialize in background screening. In both cases, validation of the application information helps employers to obtain and retain competent and high quality employees. This can be done by verification of documents and certificates, examination of …

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Social Media in the employment context and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Sharing personal and work-related information on social media sites has become a prevalent practice for many employees nowadays. Likewise, social media is also used by employers as a platform to connect with the public (e.g. for employer branding and in recruitment) and to communicate within the workforce. However, both sides should be aware that the use of social media sites may potentially pose threats. Employees may share information about the employer which may lead to a breach of their confidentiality obligations. Social media sites have always been a popular platform for employees to taunt or attack co-workers against whom they …

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Employee data protection – an increasingly onerous task?

In Brussels, the EU Commission, the Council and the Parliament are currently negotiating the final version of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in what is known as the trilogue discussions. Whilst there are still considerable differences between the three drafts in play one thing is sure: together with the individual fines, reputational implications for violations of data protection law will increase substantially.   The GDPR will replace the rather outdated European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC that has been implemented into German law by the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz). After a Commission draft in 2012 and a parliamentary draft …

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Corporate Email Correspondence As Admissible Evidence?

The legal boundaries regarding the screening of an employee’s corporate email account and questions concerning the admissibility of those emails as evidence in court (eg in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit) have not been finally resolved. No express evidence exclusion rule is laid down by law, either in the Civil Code or in the Labour Court Act. Questions regarding the admissibility of corporate emails as evidence in general depend on whether the private use of corporate email accounts was forbidden, allowed or at least tolerated by the company. If the private use of corporate email accounts is expressly forbidden, the employer …

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Details of how Mrs Merkel’s new administration wants to be “Shaping Germany’s Future”

Almost three months after the general election, the biggest political parties CDU/CSU and SPD have agreed to form a joint administration under the lead of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In a 185-page coalition agreement named “Shaping Germany`s Future”  the parties have specified their plans and contemplated actions in respect of the forthcoming legislative period. In this post we will outline the key points relating to employment and labour issues that might be relevant to your business and your daily work. However, it remains to be seen if all of these projects will be implemented in the form described in the coalition deal. …

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