Friday, May 25, 2012

French Court Narrows the Scope of Workplace Privacy

The Bordeaux Court of Appeals in France has ruled, in Pierre B. v. Epsilon Composite, that a company was justified in reviewing emails sent by an employee using a workplace computer, since the employee had not identified the messages as personal.  The employer was also justified in firing the employee when it discovered that he had emailed confidential work files from his work email to his personal email account, in violation of company rules and a confidentiality agreement he had signed.   As we previously reported, the Cassation Court’s 2001 decision in Nikon France SA v. Frédéric O. established that employees have a right to privacy in personal messages transmitted using a workplace computer, even where an employer has banned non-business use of the computer.  But, since then, French courts have refined the Nikon decision in ways that narrow employees’ privacy rights in the workplace in favor of employers.  This decision continues that trend.

© Copyright 2012 Steptoe & Johnson LLP