Protection of Employees Personal Data: in case of litigation, producing pieces of evidence carrying personal information of employees is prohibited

French Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”) has recently ruled* that an employer cannot produce before Courts documents containing with personal data of his employees, unless they gave their prior consent to this filing.

In this case, an employer, while a litigation against a trade union in relation to professional elections process, has produced payslips of employees to support his argumentation.

Employees considered that the employer had breached their right to privacy as their payslips contained several personal data (age, salary, personal address, bank domiciliation, existence of work suspensions due to illness). Consequently, they brought their case before the summary process judge of Labour Court for disclosure.

Labour Court, followed by the Appeal and the Supreme Courts, agreed with their conclusions and sentenced the employer to pay them damages.

They ruled that the right of the defense invoked by the employer could not justify a breach of the right to privacy. Especially, they considered that such breach was not necessary, as the employer could have blacked out the personal data which were irrelevant for the case, or could have asked for their prior consent.

This decision is a clear example of the current trend of overprotection of the employees’ personal data, and employer should be more careful when disclosing employee’s personal data, even when defending in a court case.

*decision of November 7th, 2018 of the Employment Chamber of Cour de cassation, n0 17-­16.799

Post by Matthieu Hue

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