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​US company fired employee for keeping webcam off, fined for invasion of privacy

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The Fortune magazine has reported that a Dutch court ordered a US company to pay a fired employee $72,700 in damages after the employee was fired for turning off the webcam while working from home.

The employee was fired by Florida-based telemarketing firm Chetu because he objected to being watched “for nine hours per day” by a programme that demanded screen sharing and webcam streaming.

The news report stated that a Dutch court found that “requiring remote staff to keep their webcam on constitutes a human rights violation” in a ruling against a US software corporation.

Florida-based Chetu now has to pay $72,700 to the former remote staffer based in the Netherlands.

“Video surveillance of an employee in the workplace, be it covert or not, must be considered as a considerable intrusion into the employee’s private life,” the court added citing the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The Dutch employee claimed that he felt uneasy and that the company’s use of his webcam to continuously observe him during a virtual training program was an invasion of his privacy.

According to The Fortune, the employee’s laptop screen had to be shared as part of the monitoring, and the business promptly let him go, blaming him for “insubordination” and “refusal to work.”

The company said it fired the worker for “refusal to work” and “insubordination,”

60% of companies with remote workers use monitoring software to keep an eye on their output and work activity, according to a Digital.com survey. 53% of employees whose behaviour is being tracked do non-work-related activities for three or more hours every day.

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