Turkey - Monitoring of employee email held not to be breach of privacy rights
Published 10 May 2016
On 10 May 2016, the Turkish Constitutional Court (the “Court”) published in the Official Gazette a decision dated 24 March 2016 which held that an employer’s monitoring of employees’ work email account did not violate the employee’s constitutional rights to privacy (the “Decision”).
The Decision concerned a case where an employee’s spouse alleged an affair among particular employees and provided copies of email correspondence to verify her claim. The employer terminated those employees on the basis of immoral and bad-faith acts (as provided for under Article 25 of Labor Law No. 4857). The employer then faced a claim from those employees on the basis that their employment was wrongfully terminated because the employer had monitored their email accounts contrary to their constitutional rights to privacy.
The Decision held that the employer, in this case, monitored the employee’s accounts prudently and had cause to do so in proving that the employee had breached corporate regulations. Monitoring in this case had not extended beyond verification purposes as the employer had monitored the accounts to a proportionate extent and the correspondence had not been made public.
Although this case is an example of monitoring of employee emails not being contrary to the privacy rights of those employees, the basis upon which the decision was made, that the monitoring was proportionate and for proper cause, highlights the need for a careful balancing exercise whenever employee monitoring is considered to ensure the proposed monitoring activity falls on the right side of the line.
Please click here to read the full text of the Decision (Turkish).