The 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court issued a decision on January 10, 2019 and with No. 2018/10718 E. – 2019/559 K. stating that employees are allowed to create message groups and communicate with other employees through these groups, provided that these communications do not disrupt their work flow or affect their work. The Supreme Court also ruled that these communications between employees within message groups should be protected as personal data.
The employment field had ongoing discussions on whether employers have the right to monitor their employees’ communication devices, especially message groups between employees, and to terminate their employment agreements due to the content of such communications. In its recent decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that such communications should be protected in terms of privacy of communications.
Pursuant to the recent decision of the 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, WhatsApp communications between employees were deemed confidential personal data and employers cannot terminate employees’ employment agreements for just cause or valid reason due to WhatsApp messages that employers obtained through methods that violate the privacy of communications.
The 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court did not assess whether the device used by the employee was provided by the employer or there were workplace policies stating that the devices were provided only for work purposes. In addition, it is understood that the 9th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court did not assess the matter considering the Turkish Data Protection Law No. 6698, as its decision does not address the grounds for data processing and fulfillment of the notification obligation.