Secret film did not infringe on sick worker’s privacy: court


A Utrecht central heating company did not seriously breach privacy laws when it filmed a worker who was off sick doing odd jobs around his house, a court in Utrecht has ruled.

The man, who worked as a fitter for the company, went off sick in March 2021, saying he had problems with his knees and could not drive, RTL Nieuws reported.

After a year at home, the man was interviewed by a company doctor and told him the complaints had worsened. He claimed that he could no longer walk, push, pull, lift, carry, kneel, bend down and stand.

But in March he was spotted driving his car by someone who tipped of his employer. The boss then paid a visit to the man at home and found him doing odd jobs.

The company brought in private detectives, who filmed the man using a secret camera in a parked car. The film showed how the fitter did jobs around his house and continue to drive his own vehicle.

The company sacked him on the spot but the fitter then took the issue to court, arguing that he had only done odd jobs that he could physically tackle.

The magistrate said the photos showed the fitter was able to do more than he admitted and that his right to privacy and not been violated too seriously. In addition, the magistrate said, the secret recordings were the only way the employer had of finding out the truth.

The man’s claim for unfair dismissal was rejected.

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