Spanish Supreme Court Finds Fired Worker's Recording of Boss Didn't Violate His Privacy

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By Brett Allan King

Jan. 12 — An employee who while being terminated recorded her boss didn't invade the manager's personal privacy because he was acting in the role of a company representative and was addressing a known business matter, Spain's Supreme Court ruled in an opinion made public Jan. 7.

The Ibex European Express SL manager sued the former employee for invasion of privacy after she recorded him with her mobile phone at the company's entrance as he handed her a letter of reprimand that penalized her with “suspension of work and salary.”

The court opinion, which was handed down Nov. 20, 2014, concluded that the manager had no right to compensation for the perceived invasion of his constitutional right to privacy. The ruling, which doesn't identify the parties by name, rejected the manager's appeal of lower court rulings that dismissed his claim for 3,000 euros ($3,552) in damages.

According to the supreme court, the manger was acting as a proxy for the company on company business that was in no way connected to his personal privacy, and in any event, the conversation recorded didn't deal with reserved information unknown to others.

Worker Alleged Harassment Concerns

The employee said she had been the victim of continued verbal and written harassment, deliberate and systematic nonpayment of salary, workplace ostracism, constant “undue sanctions” and other behavior aimed at forcing her to quit.

According to the court, she started recording as she left her car and headed to the company entrance, “worried about what would happen to her, work-wise.”

The supreme court ruling said the environment of conflict and allegations of harassment added “a note of reasonability to the defendant's behavior.”

The court ordered the plaintiff to pay the legal costs of the appeal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Allan King in Madrid at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at mailto:%20daplin@bna.com

Full text of the court's opinion is available, in Spanish, at http://op.bna.com/pl.nsf/r?Open=dapn-9sqlwg.