News - France

France - January 2012

French Supreme Court specifies the conditions under which GPS may be used to monitor an employee

It was held by the French Supreme Court that a company had unlawfully used a GPS device to track the company car of one of its employees.

Background

An employee working as a sales representative was informed by his employer that his company car would be equipped with a GPS for the purpose of reviewing his trips and optimising his visits to clients.  Several months later the employee claimed constructive dismissal on the ground that his employer had used the data collected by the GPS to reduce his remuneration.

The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court upheld the employee’s claim.

The use of a GPS that collects personal data must be declared to the French data protection administration (the “Commission National de l’Informatique et des Libertés” or “CNIL”).  In the notification to CNIL the employer must clearly specify the purpose of the system that is, the potential use of the personal data collected via the system.  The use of a GPS for a purpose other than the one declared to the CNIL exposes the employer to criminal penalties.  The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a GPS for a purpose other than the reason indicated to the data protection administration is a violation of the law and the data so collected may not be used against the employee.

The Supreme Court also said that using a GPS to check the working hours of an employee is only permissible if such a check cannot be done by other means.  In this case it was held that the use of a GPS to monitor the employee’s working time was not justifiable when the employee’s employment contract permitted the employee to freely organise his work schedule.

Resources:

Cass. Soc. 3 November 2011 No. 10-18.036 Société Moreau Incendies contre Decaen, RJS 1/12

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