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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48168
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I left my phone in the ladies toilet in my workplace.

Customer Question

Hi,
I left my phone in the ladies toilet in my workplace. A colleague found and opened it and checked the pictures in it to figure the owner. They found photos about documents they thought I did risk to be found by somebody else and reported me to the manager who started an investigation against me. Do you think it was legal to open my personal data and check them?
Do they have the right to start an investigation based on data they collected this way? Should I do anything according this act against my personal data?
Thank you very much
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Ben,
For two weeks. Why is it important?
Krisztina
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Because many of your rights in this situation will be determined by your length of service. Most importantly if you have less than 2 years’ service you will not be protected against unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal. This means you can be dismissed or forced to leave because of the employer’s unreasonable behaviour for more or less any reason. There are a few limited exceptions but they will not apply here. So even if you try and argue that you privacy had been breached, it would not stop the employer from taking the matter further and conducting an investigation or even dismissing you for this. As to personal data being breached, technically they had no duty to keep that confidential – it was not data entrusted to them for safekeeping and they would not owe you such a duty of care not to access it or use it for reasons for which it was not given to them. The only argument is that this is a breach of trust and confidence, which is something that exists in every employment relationship. However, this can only be pursued if you had 2 years service so this is why it will be very difficult to pursue it here. I'm sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you were hoping for, however I do have a duty to be honest and explain the law as it actually stands. This does mean delivering bad news from time to time. I hope you understand and would be happy to provide any further clarification if needed. If you are still satisfied with the level of service you have received I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear Ben, thank you for your answer. For me it is still interesting that a stranger can open an other ones phone and check the pictures. What if it would have been a client? Could I complain about they checked my personal belonging? What about the company policy " How to handle lost items in the shop?" Thanks, Krisztina
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi, opening a phone and checking its contents is a moral issue rather than a legal one. So if it had been a client's phone it could have affected their business relationship and lost a client maybe but it does not make it unlawful. The issue here is still your length of service - even if the employer had completely breached their internal policies you cannot challenge it legally because the only way would have been through constructive dismissal which you cannot claim if you do not have 2 years service