Be Careful: Your Employer Now has the Right to Read Your Personal Messages

From now on employers have the right to read the private messages of their employees sent during working hours. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Tuesday allowed employers to read personal messengers if they had any doubts that their employee is engaged with anything else but the job.

The matter is that the court considered the case of the Romanian citizen, who had a complaint against his former employer which fired him in 2007 for having used Yahoo Messenger account not only for professional, but also for personal reasons. The man claimed that the company violated his privacy.

The Court dismissed the application, considering the company’s decision quite reasonable and legitimate. It concluded that the employee had violated the working rules and that the employer had the right to check exactly what his employee did while working. It should be noted that in many companies it has also become a tradition to fire employees for speaking out on social networks, such as the statuses on Facebook, for example.

 Romanian engineer who is now 36 years, was fired in 2007 after working for three years in a private company. The employer checked his Facebook-page and found that the engineer used a working computer to exchange messages with his wife and his brother. The man went through all the courts in his own country, but did not achieve any positive decision, thus appealing at last to the ECHR. The lower chamber of the ECHR did not satisfy the suit but now the Romanian citizen has still the right to appeal within three months. ECHR may, but is not obliged, send the case to its Grand Chamber, where the panel of 17 judges will consider it.

 The decision of the European Court of Human Rights applies to the 47 countries which have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, including Armenia.