Legal AlertConstitutional Court Decision Regarding Corporate Email Account Examined by the Employer is Published.

9 February 2021

With the Constitutional Court Decision (“Decision”) dated 12.01.2021 and numbered 2018/31036 and published in the Official Gazette dated 05.02.2021 and numbered 31386, the allegations regarding the violation of the right to demand the protection of personal data and freedom of communication within the scope of respect for private life, were decided upon. The case manifested itself in the form of the termination of the employment contract by the employer of the applicant working in a private bank, due to his correspondence via corporate e-mail investigated by the employer.

1- Events and Facts

In the Employment Contract signed between the applicant and the employer, there are provisions stating that the e-mail address may only be used for business purposes and may be audited by bank inspectors without prior notice.

As a result of the inspector investigation conducted on the allegation that the applicant was working in a company registered to his wife, it was established that the applicant sent documents to the accountant of the company established on behalf of his wife using his corporate e-mail address and made a loan application by negotiating loans with other banks.

In his defense, the applicant stated that he was only helping his wife and that this situation affected his job performance, albeit from time to time.

As a result of the report, the Employment Contract was terminated for acting against the working principles of the bank due to the fact that the applicant carried out transactions in a way that would affect performance during working hours and engaged in commercial activities.

2- The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant stated that his correspondence through his corporate e-mail accounts was inspected without prior notice and without his consent, and as a result, his employment contract was unfairly terminated and thus his right to respect for private life and freedom of communication were violated.

3- Evaluation

It has been stated that, as a rule, communication tools provided to the employee may be inspected and restrictions may be stipulated within the scope of the management authority of the employer for legitimate reasons that may be justified, such as ensuring the control of the flow of information by carrying out the works effectively, protection against criminal and legal liability related to the actions of the employee, measuring efficiency or security concerns.

The interference made by the employer to the employee’s right to demand protection of his personal data and freedom of communication must be relevant to the determined purpose, sufficient and necessary, and the data obtained shall be used for the determined purpose.

In the case in question, the employer has a legitimate interest in accessing the e-mail content, since with the processing of personal data through the corporate e-mails of the employees and controlling the communication flow are related to the effectiveness  of the business carried out.

In addition, it was clearly stipulated in the employment contract that the corporate e-mail allocated to the applicant would only be used for business purposes and that the corporate e-mail could be audited by the bank management without prior notice and consequently the employment contract could be terminated. It must be accepted that the applicant has given his consent by signing the employment contract.

4- Judgement

It has been decided that the right to request the protection of personal data within the scope of the right to respect for private life guaranteed under Article 20 of the Constitution and the freedom of communication guaranteed in Article 22 of the Constitution were not violated.

You may reach the full Turkish version of the decision via the link below: