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Dutch Court Rules Active Webcam Policies Violate Human Rights

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A Dutch court ruled in favor of a Dutch national employed by a U.S. company who was fired for refusing to turn on his webcam. The ruling was part of the employee’s wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, Chetu, Inc, a Florida-based software company. Chetu’s company policy requires employees to have their webcams and screens visible on remote viewing software for several hours daily. The employee was fired for “refusal to work” and “insubordination” when he refused to comply and open his webcam cover.

The court disagreed, finding that the policy violates Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 8 protects the “right to respect for private and family life.” The court ordered Chetu to pay the employee’s legal fees, provide back wages, and pay a fine for violating employment law.

This ruling is a marked difference from U.S. law, which does not generally prevent businesses from observing their remote workers via webcam, email, or screen monitoring. However, the tide may be changing on this issue. The spike in remote work following COVID-19 has inspired some states, including Delaware and New Jersey, to pass laws restricting such heavy-handed remote management.

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