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Can a video of a worker stealing be used as evidence in order to fire him?

The decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case known as López Ribalda v. Spain, which judged the relevance of the dismissal of some workers from a supermarket who had been accused of stealing in the same. The main evidence against them consisted of some recordings that were made in the premises through video surveillance cameras that had been installed by the employer without prior notice.

The ECtHR agrees with the workers that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This article includes the right to respect for private and family life.

In Spain, the use of cameras to monitor employees is governed by the provisions of video surveillance regulations, so it must be borne in mind that the image is personal data and, therefore, the treatment of it must respect the Organic Law on Data Protection and its complementary regulations.

The Workers' Statute allows the employer to establish the surveillance measures that he considers most appropriate for the control of his employees, including the installation of security video cameras, provided that these respect the dignity of the workers and the principle of proportionality.

Both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have ruled on this matter, considering that the express consent of the worker is not necessary, but the employer is obliged to inform of the existence of the video cameras and the possibility of collecting data from the workers.

In judgments of the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, our courts consider that it is sufficient to place posters informing of the existence of video surveillance cameras.

In the case of the workers dismissed from this supermarket, the ECtHR considers it proven that the employer had placed the security cameras without giving notice, recording the images without the employees being aware of this fact, therefore, the ECtHR understands that this control measure by the employer has violated the rights in matters of privacy and protection of personal data, and the workers must be compensated for the damages suffered.