The Turkish Constitutional Court has recently published a
decision where it held that an employer monitoring an
employee's institutional email account and using correspondence
in court did not violate the employee's constitutional rights.
The court held that the employer had monitored these accounts
prudently and with just cause, since it was done to verify
allegations that the employee had breached corporate regulations.
It noted that monitoring had not gone beyond verification purposes
and content of the correspondence was not made public.
In the case at hand, an employee's spouse alleged an affair
among employees to a senior manager. The spouse submitted copies of
e-mail correspondence to support her claim. The employer terminated
the related employees on the basis of Article 25 of Labor Law No.
4857, which addresses immoral and bad-faith acts. The terminated
employees filed a re-employment lawsuit in 2012, arguing their
employment agreements were wrongfully terminated because the
employer monitored their e-mail accounts contrary to their
constitutional rights to privacy and communication.
The re-employment lawsuit was rejected in 2013 on the grounds
that the applicants made personal correspondence from their
institutional e-mail accounts within working hours, including
obscene content. The court held that these factors made it
impossible for the employer to maintain the employment
relationships. The rejection decision was also upheld by the
appellate court. However, the terminated employees continued to
pursue the matter before the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court held that terminating the employment
agreements upon monitoring their institutional e-mail accounts did
not violate the right to privacy (Article 20 of the Constitution)
or the right to communication (Article 22 of the Constitution). The
The relevant employment agreements required the terminated
employees to comply with all corporate regulations, including Basic
Company Regulation and an Information Security Undertaking.
Sending explicit content from an institutional e-mail account
violates the Basic Company Regulation, which requires employees to
maintain professional relationships.
The Information Security Undertaking prohibits personal use of
company computers and institutional e-mail accounts, specifically
warning employees that e-mail correspondences and communication
might be monitored when needed.
The employer only monitored the e-mail accounts to confirm the
spouse's claim about violations of the employment agreements.
Therefore, just cause existed, together with a proportional
The proceedings did not reveal the terminated employees'
private lives and the privacy of their communications weren't
The Constitutional Court's decision dated 24 March 2016,
with application number 2013/4825, was published in Official
Gazette number 295708 on 10 May 2016. Please see this link for the full text of the
Constitutional Court's decision (only available in
Information first published in the
MA | Gazette, a fortnightly legal update newsletter produced by
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