The question dealt with by the Italian Supreme Court – with its judgment no. 2034/12 – was the unlawful processing of an employee’s sensitive data (concerning the latter’s state of health).
L.R. N. was, in fact, affected by illness which was, in the latter’s opinion, work-related. The said employee submitted, therefore, a request for the recognition of such disease.
Unfortunately, the employer’s review committee rejected the request and the directional manager of Local Authority A. refused – with a decision taken subsequently – to recognize the illness as being work-related, illustrating, in the administrative act of rejection, the diagnosis, causes, nature and effects thereof, as well as ordering the publication in the Local Authority’s Official Gazette for 15 days.
N. decided, therefore, to commence proceedings before the competent Court for the purpose of requesting damages for the non-economic losses suffered as a result of the unlawful processing of sensitive data.
The Court granted the petitioner’s requests, ruling that the administrative act had been published in such a manner that anyone could have read the grounds of such a rejection and, therefore, acquire information concerning the petitioner’s health.
The Court ordered, therefore, the defendants to pay non-economic damages, which were quantified in 16.000,00 Euros.
The Supreme Court, upon being called to hand down judgment on the aforementioned question, held the Public Authority’s conduct to be unlawful, confirming, therefore, the Court’s dictum.
In particular, the Supreme Court judges held that some of the main principles of the Italian Data Protection Code had been breached (Legislative Decree 196/03) as regarded the inappropriateness and excessive nature of the defendants’ actions since the grounds upon which the latter reached its decision could have been expressed by serving notice in manner a which didn’t make it possible for anyone to read the act in question.
The Supreme Court judges held, therefore, that, in the case at hand, the petitioner had suffered non-economic losses consisting in the discomfort and embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as a result of the aforementioned data being disseminated and of having to worry about who and how many had become aware of the said petitioner’s state of health.