Worker quit lab after she had spotted secret camera
A female worker at a dental lab left her job in distress after she discovered a secret camera had been placed by her employer in a folder to snoop on her.
Now, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled the dental technician was entitled to resign and claim constructive dismissal and has ordered the dental lab, run by a husband and wife team, to pay the worker €5,000 for unfair dismissal.
The dental technician told the hearing she was extremely upset and concerned to discover the concealed camera especially as she had previously received inappropriate messages via WhatsApp from the husband.
In her ruling and upholding the woman's claim for unfair dismissal, WRC Adjudication Officer Máire Mulcahy rejected the employer's argument the camera was installed to protect the worker.
Ms Mulcahy said the installation of the camera was a breach of trust and confidence.
The WhatsApp messages strayed "somewhat off course" from the employer-employee relationship.
In the case, the dental technician said that on her return from leave in September 2017, she discovered the hidden camera, called a 'Clever Dog Smart Camera', in a smart lever arch folder placed at the reception desk.
The covert camera was taped to the wall and pointed in the direction of her desk with an intermittent flashing light. She detected the lens was positioned behind a hole in the folder.
The technician - who commenced work for the couple in June 2016 - confronted her employers and she was told the camera was installed to see couriers and patients coming in and out.
She told the hearing this seemed illogical as the camera was pointed at her desk and not at the entrance.
Her male boss had called her "a stupid idiot" for getting upset.
Her female boss disclaimed all knowledge of the camera's installation.
The employee said she was shocked at her employer's reaction. She worked for the remainder of the day quite upset, stressed and shocked.
On returning home and consulting with her family, she felt she could not return to work. Her doctor certified she was suffering from work-related stress. She went on sick leave.
She felt the relationship of trust and confidence with her employers had been irreparably damaged and she handed her notice to her employers on September 22, 2017 on advice from her GP and family.
The employer told the hearing the camera was installed to monitor the comings and goings of strangers as the employee would be by herself when they were away.
He stated he regretted he did not advise her of the installation and apologised to her.