Employers stopped from using phone data to discipline employees

The Labour Court has termed as unconstitutional the act by employers snooping into their employees private phones during investigations over alleged misconduct.

Lady Justice Monica Mbaru found that audit firm, KPMG had violated Ms Gloria Jepkurui Koima’s rights to privacy, when they seized her personal phone without her consent and used the information they had retrieved from the gadget to back up disciplinary proceedings against her.

The court directed that the information sourced from her personal phone shall be expunged from the records and that what is available for the disciplinary hearing shall only relate to her work telephone and work lap top and other evidence that firm has of her by the use of its workplace policies and code of conduct.

“All information obtained from Ms Jepkurui’s personal phone shall be returned in soft or hard copies and shall not form part of her work records unless she wishes to use the same in her case voluntarily,” Justice Mbaru ruled.

KPMG had defended its actions saying that it has a set of values, policies and code of conduct and that Ms Jepkurui as an employee was bound to adhere.

The judge however, said in the ruling delivered on March 30, that the use of any personal data, information and communication must be with the unequivocal consent of the person, and that the information must be well sourced and the person well informed.

Further, that the purpose for the use of such data and information must be issued and obtained in writing to ensure there is no infringement of the right to privacy as provided by the constitution.

The application had been filed by Ms Jepkurui claiming that she had been diligently working for KPMG Advisory Services, for the last seven years without any disciplinary case until she was asked to resign from her position following investigations on an alleged affair with one of her superiors.

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