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Employer entitled to check browsing history

The Regional Labor Court of Berlin-Brandenburg ruled that an employer may be entitled to analyze the browsing history of a work computer even without the employee’s consent to ascertain facts for a dismissal.

Private use of a work computer permitted

The employer had provided the employee with a work computer. The employee was allowed to use the internet in a private capacity in exceptional cases during break times. After evidence emerged of a substantial private use of the internet by the employee, the employer analyzed the browsing history of the work computer without the employee’s consent. The employer discovered that the employee had used the internet for a total of about five days within a period of 30 working days. Thereupon, the employer terminated the employment.

Dismissal effective

The Regional Labor Court ruled that the dismissal with immediate effect was effective, as – after giving due consideration to the interest of both parties – the non-permitted use of the internet justified the immediate termination of the employment. The evidence gained from the analysis was admissible. Although the data were personal and the employee had not agreed to the control, the use of the data was admissible because the law permitted abuse controls even without consent and the employer had no other way of proving the non-permitted use of the internet. The court allowed an appeal on points of law.

Our data protection and labor law experts will be happy to assist you with any issues relating to dismissal or abuse of data protection.

Judgment of 01/14/2016 – 5 Sa 657/15

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Dr. Eric Uftring

Dr. Eric Uftring

As a specialized employment attorney, Dr. Eric Uftring mainly focuses on German employment law. He advises clients on concluding and drafting work/service and termination agreements, implementing transfers of undertakings and all types of restructuring pertaining to employment law.

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