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Sacking over email use was wrong

Top appeal court has overturned a woman’s dismissal for sending and receiving more than 600 private emails a month

FRANCE’S top appeal court has ruled a refinancing firm was wrong to sack a worker for sending and receiving around 30 personal emails a day.

The Cour de Cassation has decided the company, in Amiens, should not have dismissed financial analyst “Corinne” five years ago.

However, it was not the sacking as such that was wrong the court said, but the fact that the firm did not notify data use watchdog Cnil that it was installing email monitoring software on employees’ computers.

It eventually did so, but only after Corinne had been sacked.

The court said it was acceptable to do such monitoring, but both the employees and Cnil needed to be notified. The staff had been told and were warned there could be disciplinary action if people were found to be wasting too much time.

Corinne was found to be “sending and receiving” 607 personal emails at her work computer in one month and 621 the next.

Though it has taken years for the case to work through the courts, with lower ones finding for the employers, the matter is still not over - another appeal court has been asked to make a final ruling bearing in mind the Cour de Cassation’s analysis.

French law says personal emails or personal web surfing at work are allowed but they should be limited to a “reasonable” amount.

It comes as Apple in France has been issued with a formal warning by Cnil for too much monitoring of employees in its Apple Stores. Cnil found the firm had been training cameras on staff in a “disproportionate” way, even in rest areas.

Photo: Mandrakephoto/ www.fotolia.com (stock image)

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