Employer’s interference with employee’s internet accounts went too far

2018-07-09 Jennifer Renney posted:

Employer’s interference with employee’s internet accounts went too far

A company recently found out the hard way the implications of interfering with one of their ex-employee’s personal internet accounts in the case of Richmond v Selecta Systems. The Claimant, Mr Richmond, was a sales representative with the Defendant, Selecta Systems. In 2016, Mr Richmond was managed out of the company. He subsequently brought various claims in Bristol High Court regarding an alleged settlement agreement and for interference with his internet accounts, claiming his personal AOL email account, Apple iTunes account, LinkedIn account and WhatsApp account were no longer accessible to him.

The Court found that it was just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on the employer in this instance and that this duty had been breached. Although the employer was entitled to protect its business interests by accessing the Claimant’s telephone and iCloud to discover whether there was any company information on it and if necessary to delete it, it had gone much further than this. In fact, Selecta’s managing director had even gone so far as altering important security details of the accounts which ultimately led to the accounts being irretrievable. The managing director’s actions were condemned by the Court as he was not an IT expert and did not seek any advice on the matter nor did he discuss the matter with the Claimant. The Court ruled in the favour of Mr Richmond and he was awarded £1000 for the loss of access to his accounts. However, on the Defendant’s counterclaim, the Court also ordered Mr Richmond to pay the company £20,140 being the value of his Mercedes company car which he had wrongfully retained.

Renney and Co offer practical and clear advice on all employment claims in the employment tribunals and High Court. For further advice, contact us on 01225632240 or email us at info@renneyandco.com with any questions.

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