NewsControversial workplace surveillance: food company fined £36,000 in Spain

Controversial workplace surveillance: food company fined £36,000 in Spain

She went to the bathroom, company cameras recorded her (illustrative photo)
She went to the bathroom, company cameras recorded her (illustrative photo)
Images source: © Adobe Stock | EdwardSamuel
Adam Sieńko

2 July 2024 21:16

An employee of a food company was recorded when she went to the bathroom. Based on monitoring, it was determined that the woman spent nearly 20 minutes in the restroom. The recording reached her coworkers, who were asked if their colleague should lose part of her salary due to such a long break.

Cameras installed in the factory recorded the woman leaving the production line and going to the bathroom. The length of the break was precisely determined to be 18 minutes. The recording was shared with other employees on the company chat set up on the WeChat platform.

Penalty for an excessively long bathroom visit

GDPR expert described the story on LinkedIn. It concerns the company CUI ZQS FOOD, which operates in Spain.

A brief comment was attached to the shared video. Employees were asked whether they believed the recorded person's behaviour was fair and, if not, whether the company should deduct part of the recorded person's salary.

The case was reported to the Spanish data protection authority, AEPD. Inspectors initiated proceedings. The company defended itself by stating that the recording was published by an employee responsible for work supervision and was "the result of an outburst of anger" due to the prolonged absence.

The company also argued that the poor quality of the recording does not allow for the identification of the recorded employee, and the publication was educational. The employer emphasised that the purpose of the monitoring is to control the number of people at the production line and to check the quality control of products.

The regulator imposed a fine

The AEPD was not convinced. The institution concluded that there was a violation of data protection regulations. It also imposed a fine of £60,000 on the employer, which was later reduced to £36,000.

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