An employee was dismissed from work after she was caught on CCTV stealing money from her employer's store counter. The employee sought invalidation of her dismissal from the Spanish courts on the basis that CCTV surveillance amounted to a violation of her constitutional rights to privacy and image as set out in Articles 18(1) and (4) of the Spanish Constitution because she had not given her express consent to being surveilled and she had not been specifically informed that CCTV had been installed (the "Claim").
On 3 March 2016, the Spanish Constitutional Court (the "Court") dismissed an appeal of the Claim (the "Ruling"). In its Ruling, the Court pointed to the Organic Law 15/1000 on the protection of personal data (the "Law"), which states that an employee's express consent is not required for the processing of personal images. The Court found that the CCTV recording in the Claim was justified by Article 6(2) of the Law which stipulates that the processing of data can be allowed without the previous consent of the employee where this is necessary for fulfilment of the employment contract. Here, the CCTV recording was deemed to be justified, adequate, necessary and proportionate.
Further, if an employer displays a general warning sign about the use of the CCTV surveillance, this is considered to be sufficient compliance with Instruction No. 1/2006 issued by the Spanish data protection agency.
Although the Ruling does give employers more flexibility as to their use of CCTV in the workplace, it also serves as a reminder to provide adequate notice to avoid any dispute or complaint.
Therefore, organisations using CCTV in the workplace should consider making use of general warning signs where they don't already do so.
To read the Ruling click here (Spanish).
To read an announcement made by the Court, please click here (Spanish).