By Order No 8375 of 23 March 2023, the Italian Court of Cassation confirmed that footage from video surveillance systems installed for security purposes may be used to prove an employee’s disciplinary breach.
The facts of the case
The case arose from a disciplinary sanction of suspension from duty and pay for ten days imposed on a vocational teacher for forcibly grabbing a student by the shirt and, after releasing his grip, causing him to fall to the ground. The teacher, moreover, ‘while the pupil […] communicated to his mother what had happened […]’ addressed the latter ‘in an ill-mannered way using decidedly heated tones’.
The event was filmed by means of the video surveillance system installed by the Authority – the educator’s employer – at the Authority’s premises, and the recordings used to make the disciplinary complaint. The teacher, having received the disciplinary measure, in requesting its annulment challenged, among other things, the use of the video surveillance system footage for disciplinary purposes.
In the proceedings on the merits, the Court of Appeal rejected the request to annul the sanction and, upholding the appeal lodged by the teacher, reformed the first instance judgment by redetermining the sanction as a fine of three hours.
The teacher appealed to the Italian Court of Cassation, which the Authority resisted with a counter-appeal.
The decision of the Italian Court of Cassation
The Italian Court of Cassation – in upholding the assessment of the judges of the Court of Appeal – affirmed the lawfulness of the use of video surveillance system footage for the purpose of making a complaint based on an employee’s disciplinary breach.
In the present case, the video surveillance system had been installed in compliance with the guarantees provided for by the applicable legislation:
• the cameras had been installed for safety at work requirements, also in the light of the fact – as noted by the Italian Court of Cassation – that they were directed towards spaces that were ‘also accessible to non-employee personnel and not intended to accommodate workstations’;
• a trade union agreement had been signed as provided for in Article 4 of the Workers’ Charter.
In addition to this, matters such as the proportionality of the penalty imposed in relation to the wrongful act committed, as well as the fact that the worker had been allowed to exercise his right of defence, had also been examined.
In the context of all these assessments, the use of the video surveillance system footage was therefore an additional element that was considered lawful.
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