May 11, 2021

Fired for surfing too much on the internet at work | My rights section

Fired for surfing too much on the internet at work | My rights section

The Internet is an essential tool in many jobs nowadays, but a disproportionate use can motivate a sanction as serious as dismissal. This is what happened in a case that has reached the High Court of Justice of Madrid (ACCESS HERE TO THE TEXT OF THE SENTENCE). The magistrates, After analyzing the evidence, they fail in favor of the company and conclude that spending most of the day surfing the internet is a serious breach of work to justify disciplinary dismissal.

The data provided by the company (dedicated to the management of cultural and artistic programs and activities) on the broadband consumption and internet access of the dismissed worker are final so that the court considers the disciplinary sanction proportionate and rejects the appeal.

The report requested by the Human Resources department concluded that the employee frequently navigated leisure pages that were not directly related to their functions and that his use of internet tripled the average of his companions (400 MB versus 140 MB). Among the web pages most visited by the worker stood out, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon among others.

When is excessive use made?

As a service manager, the worker had to perform, among other functions, active search of potential congresses and contacts, satisfaction statistics and sending of surveys. This question was alleged by the defense to justify Internet use. Browsing the network was essential to do your job, a use that, in any case, did not exceed the socially accepted and tolerated.

On the other hand, denied the validity and effectiveness of the report submitted by the company, underlining that it was not signed by a qualified expert and that contained "uncertain and inaccurate data". The computer audit was carried out, denounced the lawyer, by an employee of the company that lacked the title of computer engineer. As well he doubted the data metric because, as alleged, multiplied connection times by adding the corresponding windows simultaneously open.

The court rejects, however, these assessments because they are "improper" in the account of the facts contained in the judgment under appeal. Instead, keep in mind that the company had given the workers a user manual of information technologies in which the use of internet for any leisure activity was prohibited. In this sense, and putting in relation the accredited consumption of the worker with that of the average of his colleagues, the court understands that there has been a serious breach that supports the dismissal.

Workplace Harassment

The circumstance occurs that the dismissed worker had denounced, along with other colleagues, a situation of workplace harassment, which was investigated but without final conclusions. The investigations were interrupted, according to the company, because all the complainants were in a situation of sick leave.

The dismissed part of the dismissed employee reflected a situation of mixed adaptive disorder with anxiety and depressive mood.

Since the dismissal occurred twenty days later, the worker's lawyer alleged that his right to indemnity or not to suffer reprisals had been violated, question that the court rejected because, as it points out, there was not enough evidence to prove it. However, the magistrates explain, the company did show the reasons why it dismissed the worker.


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