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Human rights: Sick employee spied on by fire service employer

Anthea Orchard, a 35-year-old mother-of-two, was spied upon during her sick leave from work, reports the BBC.

Suspicious employers, the West Yorkshire Fire Service (WYFS), hired an external monitoring agency to spy upon their employee, Anthea, when she was signed off work with stress and hyperthyroidism.

Believing Anthea was using the time away from the office to work upon her personal pursuits running a balloon decorating business, the WYFS broke basic human right laws by having her watched.

Less than a week after being signed off, Anthea traced a number of calls she had been inundated with to a private investigator's number. The person on the other end of the phone during each call claimed to be approaching her about potential work offers. Given that she was both employed and currently unable to work, Anthea turned the job offers down. However, having traced the phone number to a private investigator she feared that the WYFS were behind it.

Her c oncern aroused, Anthea contacted her Fire Brigade Union in search of help. With the support of the union, Anthea discovered that a tracking device had been placed on her car. When confronted with the accusation, her employers denied all involvement. Yet the union's secretary, David Williams, claimed that he knew of another very similar case involving the WYFS and another of their employees. The cases were too similar for a connection to be doubted.

Commenting on the case, the BBC reported: "Mrs Orchard has now left her job with a £11,000 payout after signing a 'compromise agreement' in which she agreed not to take the service to court for human rights violations over 'unnecessary surveillance or invasion into privacy and family life'."

Had Anthea raised her case to court, her basic human rights, as protected under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, would have undeniably been found to have been infringed upon by her former employer.


West Yorkshire fire service 'hired private eye to spy on sick employee' (The BBC)