Isle of Man: A Right to Privacy at Work?

Last Updated: 3 June 2016
Article by Tara Cubbon

Employees should take care when bringing private matters into the workplace. Depending on the circumstances, it may not be reasonable to expect privacy.

In Garamukanwa v Solent NHS Trust the England and Wales Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") held that an employee's right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was not engaged when an employee's personal emails to a work colleague were investigated by his employer.

The claimant was a clinical manager for the Trust who formed a personal relationship with one of the staff nurses. After the relationship ended, he formed a belief that the staff nurse had formed a relationship with a female member of staff. The claimant felt that the relationship with a junior member of staff on the same ward was not in the interests of patients.

The claimant sent emails to the staff nurse and colleague at their work email addresses telling them that unless they informed their manager about the relationship he would. Anonymous letters were also sent to the manager in addition to emails sent from fictitious email accounts. The staff nurse complained to the police. Following the police confirming that no charges would be brought, the Trust investigated the matter and summarily dismissed the claimant on the grounds of gross misconduct. The Trust relied upon the fact that there had been photographs on the claimant's iPhone of the staff nurse's home address and also a photograph of a notebook containing details of the email addresses from which the malicious emails had been sent.

The claimant pursued a claim for unfair dismissal where he argued that the emails and other material he sent, together with the photographs were entirely private and personal.

At first hearing, the Employment Tribunal (the "Tribunal") had held that Article 8 does extend to protect private correspondence and communications including potentially emails sent at work where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, whether or not there is an expectation of privacy in an individual case must depend upon the facts and circumstances of the case.

Whilst the Trust's investigation concerned a personal relationship with a work colleague, the matters had been brought into the workplace by the claimant and were introduced into the workplace as giving rise to work related issues. The emails were published to colleagues at work email addresses, they had adverse consequences for other employees in respect of whom the Trust owed a duty of care and they raised issues of concern for the Trust's own relationship with the claimant.  Upon appeal, the EAT held that the Tribunal was correct not to distinguish between the private material (emails sent to private email addresses and the photographs obtained from the claimant's iPhone) and the anonymous emails sent to work email addresses.

Further, the EAT held that from the date that the staff nurse had complained about the email from the claimant, the claimant cannot have had any further expectation of privacy even in circumstances where it was sent to her private email address. There must have been an expectation that she could complain of harassment and he had no control over when and where she complained or what she did with those emails. In any event, the content of those emails went beyond issues of the claimant's personal feelings towards her and addressed workplace issues.

Accordingly, the EAT found that the Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that Article 8 was not engaged as the claimant cannot have had a reasonable expectation of privacy in those circumstances.


In the absence of local authority on a point of law, the Isle of Man Employment Tribunal has confirmed that "in an endeavour to be consistent", it will often accept as persuasive authority decisions from the EAT. This case is therefore an important and timely reminder for employees, whilst acting as helpful guidance for employers, in a world where social media, email and internet use are an everyday occurrence in the workplace for both business and personal needs.

However employers should take care in relying too heavily on this case. The evidence relied upon by the Trust had been provided by the police; they had not gone looking for the evidence. Cases like these will always be fact sensitive with employers needing to carefully tread the blurred line between their own interests and employees' right to privacy.

In order to minimise difficulties where disciplinary action is required, employers should ensure they have clear policies relating to the use of social media and the internet and ensure that the same is well communicated throughout the business.

If you require any advice or assistance on this or other areas of employment law, please contact Leanne McKeown or Tara Cubbon in our specialist employment team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions