Highest court France defends workfloor privacy once more

By EDRi · June 2, 2005

On 17 May 2005 the highest court in France, the cour de Cassation, has destroyed an appeal verdict from November 2002 that allowed companies to search the computers of their employees for unwanted internet behaviour. At the very least, the employee must be warned before and be present if a search is conducted.

The medical supplies company Nycomed Amersham Medical System (later renamed Cathnet-Science) searched the computer of their employee after somebody had found erotic pictures in his drawer (in his absence). The highest court found the subsequent dismissal unacceptable and has referred the case back to the appeal court of Versailles, to decide on the fate of the employee and a possible reimbursement for damages.

It is the second time the French cour de Cassation upholds the privacy of employees. In an earlier case an employee of Nikon was dismissed after having used his workfloor computer for private activities. On 2 October 2001 the French cour de Cassation destroyed the decision validating this dismissal as well, similarly basing their condemnation of the computer search on article 8 of the ECHR, article 9 of the French Civil Code and articles 120-122 of the Working Code.

La justice rappelle le droit à la vie privée du salarié en entreprise (27.05.2005)

Cour de Cassation, Mr K. vs. Sté Cathnet-Science (17.05.2005)

Cour de Cassation, Société Nikon France vs. Monsieur 0 (02.10.2001)