Dental worker ‘entitled to resign’ after finding hidden camera

WRC awards woman €5,000 over ‘puzzling’ breach of trust and contract by employer

The dental technician found a ‘Clever Dog Smart Camera’ hidden in a lever arch folder placed at the reception desk.

The dental technician found a ‘Clever Dog Smart Camera’ hidden in a lever arch folder placed at the reception desk.

 

A worker at a dental lab left her job in distress after discovering that a secret camera had been placed by her employer in a folder in order to watch her.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruled that the dental technician was entitled to resign and claim constructive dismissal and it ordered the dental lab, run by a husband and wife, to pay her €5,000 for unfair dismissal.

The woman told the hearing she was upset and concerned to discover the camera particularly given that she had previously received inappropriate messages via WhatsApp from the man.

WRC adjudication officer Máire Mulcahy rejected the employer’s argument that the camera was installed to protect the worker. Ms Mulcahy said installing the camera was a breach of trust and confidence resulting in a fundamental breach of contract.

“I find that the employer’s actions, though a once off, were sufficiently damaging to the relationship of trust to which both parties are entitled.”

Ms Mulcahy stated that the Whats App messages mentioned strayed somewhat off course from the employer-employee relationship.

‘Most puzzling’

“If the camera was to protect her from intruders or unwelcome visitors, why did it need to be hidden? That is the most puzzling aspect of this.”

The dental technician said that on her return from leave in September 2017, she discovered the camera, called a ‘Clever Dog Smart Camera’, hidden in a lever arch folder placed at the reception desk. She noted that the lens was positioned behind a hole in the folder.

The technician - who took up the role in June 2016 - confronted her employers over the matter and was told the camera was installed to monitor couriers and patients coming and going. The employee said this seemed illogical to her as the camera was pointed at her desk and not at the entrance.

The woman lodged a complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner over the matter last March.

The employer told the hearing it had become concerned about the security of the premises as the only other tenant in the building had moved on.

He said he regretted that he did not advise the woman of the installation of the camera and apologised to her. He said no images were captured of the complainant by the camera.