Italian Supreme Court Rules That Watching Porn At Work Is A Protected Right

According to the Italian edition of The Local via LiveSicilia, workers on personal breaks have a protected right to watch pornography. The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome said Fiat had no right to sack the worker, who enjoyed “just a glimpse of the film during a meal break.” The United States may inadvertently go even further in actually paying for employees to watch porn. This is one of the few industries that appears to be booming in the shutdown. There is a reported sharp increase in the watching of porn after federal workers were put on leave. Since these workers will eventually be paid for their missing time, we may outstrip Italy on the provocative issue.

The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome ruled that car manufacturer Fiat improperly fired a worker in 2008 for watching an adult film on his personal laptop during a break. The worker apparently watched the movie in an electrical supply room.

The court was facing an anomaly in many countries that protects the right to watch pornography, including the United States, and the barring of reviewing such material at work. It is ultimately a moral or social imposes on a work force. In the United States, the first amendment protects against government censorship of material, not such rules imposed by private companies. In Italy, the rules protecting workers are more expansive and protective.

The contrast between the two countries on the issue is fascinating. Indeed, even the presence of pornography has been enough to establish a hostile workplace. In Patane v. Clark, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court on such a sexual harassment claim.  The Court stated:

Specifically, the district court concluded that Plaintiff failed to allege that she faced an objectively hostile work environment, “because [she] never saw the videos, witnessed [her supervisor] watch the videos, or witnessed [her supervisor] performing sexual acts.” Patane, 435 F. Supp. 2d at 316. However, Plaintiff does allege that she regularly observed [him] watching pornographic videos. This Court has specifically recognized that the mere presence of pornography in a workplace can alter the “status” of women therein and is relevant to assessing the objective hostility of the environment….

Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that she was regularly required to handle pornographic videotapes in the course of performing her employment responsibilities of opening and delivering [her supervisors] mail; and that she once discovered hard core pornographic websites that [he] viewed on her workplace computer. Combined with Plaintiff’s other allegations regarding [his] sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace, including her allegation regarding his earlier harassment of [another employee], and with [the employer’s] failure to take any action notwithstanding Plaintiff’s numerous complaints, a jury could well conclude that Plaintiff was subject to frequent severely offensive conduct that interfered with her ability to perform her secretarial functions.

In contrast, a trial court upheld the firing but a court of appeal reversed in favor of the worker. Notably however another court ruled that a worker in a different case was legitimately fired for smoking pot at work. So workers at Fiat and watch porn but not smoke pot while doing so.

23 thoughts on “Italian Supreme Court Rules That Watching Porn At Work Is A Protected Right”

  1. This comes from the country where the Supreme Court ruled that a woman wearing tight jeans could not be raped but must have consented since, due to the tightness of the jeans, the woman must have necessarily assisted in pulling them off. What’s next? The right to go out and rape women wearing tight jeans on one’s lunch break?

  2. In other words, “Italian Supreme Court Rules That Watching Porn At Work Is A Protected Right” if the worker is off the clock on an authorized meal break, using his own personal computer, and hidden in a closet.

  3. Well, if any court would rule in such a way, it would be an Italian one.

    I remember visiting Italy in my twenties, and coming away with the distinct impression that Italian men view women as more vital than air. I was allowed to hold the wheel of a ferry, invited up to the cockpit of the plane to sit with the pilots, and when I twisted my high heeled shoe in a cobble stone in front of Trevi Fountain, I think it was, someone scooped me up and carried me to a chair. The hotel owners waited up at night to make sure my sister and I got back safe. When we accidentally got into a bad neighborhood in Rome, a business owner left his shop to escort us back to safety. We had security call ahead on their radios to each other at The Vatican museum, “Baywatch!” (because that’s what they thought it was like in CA, that everyone ran on the beach in red swimsuits), and I remember looking up a spiral staircase to see guards looking down at us. We had to dance on top of a table at a nightclub to get some personal space because we didn’t want to be pawed. A pair of carabinieri stuck around when we got locked out of our hostel after curfew. And a waiter from the night before showed up, literally crying, at the train station because we were leaving. I even got a marriage proposal from someone who taught us how to throw knives (long story). I didn’t even kiss a single guy there or accept any advances. I have no idea why we got that much attention. This must be a daily occurrence for Italian women, who all must have the confidence of rock stars. Any lady in need of a massive boost to her ego should vacation in Italy.

    There were so many kind, generous people, men and women, who went out of their way to be hospitable. I would say that the pedestal upon which Italian men place women is lofty.

  4. Porn viewers (those that wish to keep their activities private) should think more defensively. Already, transnational blackmail scams are popping up. Do you trust the web-porn operators to have your IP address? To not sell it? Until we have strong citizen privacy law, any info your computer gives over is not legally owned by you. Unless you are using an anonymizing browser, your habits could be used against you. Imagine being asked to pay $800 US in Bitcoin to 3F903AB537FD66E. Imagine how paying it will forever label you as a criminal “mark.

    1. Did you read in the news about the guy who was invited to his girlfriend’s sister’s wedding? He loaned them the speakers from his gym where he worked. Everything went smoothly until the groom stood up to give a speech. Unfortunately, the guy’s phone automatically connected to the BlueTooth speakers, and auto played what was last cued up on his phone…which was porn. The audio played over the speakers. The groom laughed it off, but the girlfriend noticed him stopping the playback on his phone. Hadn’t spoken to him since, and the poor guy was asking for advice on what to do. From the entire planet Earth, because the story went global.

  5. “There is a reported sharp increase in the watching of porn after federal workers were put on leave. Since these workers will eventually be paid for their missing time, we may outstrip Italy on the provocative issue.”

    Gee do ya think that anyone will make the connection that Porn, like drugs, like so much else, is STRESS RELIEF? To expect Federal Workers furloughed, against their will, for the big orange cranky babys behavior, to expect them to tow some line is not just hypocritical but is incredibly absurd? There’s a reason that violence is breaking through. No amouint of stress relief behaviors can counter the socially and economically violent ‘rules’ imposed by a ‘government’ that says that ‘rules’ are for everyone else, but not them. merica has been a frog, boiled in the waters of the ugliest of its debnizens. Welcome home lawyers, it must be just as you like it now……

    1. To expect Federal Workers furloughed, against their will, for the big orange cranky babys behavior,

      Actually, they’re on furlough because Nancy Pelosi refuses to permit an appropriation of $5 bn in a federal budget of over $3,000 bn.

      But you knew that.

  6. Generally, employees are not paid during their lunch breaks, so it is considered personal time, and therefore no more of the employer’s business how they spend it than what the employee does when he/she is at home. (By contrast, coffee breaks are paid time, so the employee must abide by company rules.) The court made the right decision. The porn viewing was done in a private place, out of view of other employees, on the employee’s personal time (meal break), and by use of the employee’s personal computer. Therefore it is of no concern to the employer. Drug use is different. Even if the employee smokes pot on his personal break time, the effects will still be present when he returns to work, and could impose a safety hazard or performance problem.

  7. Well, now we know that a majority of the Court of Cassation is wanking on company time.

    The Table of Contents to the French labor code is more than eighty pages long. I doubt the Italian labor code is less rococo than the French. The statutory obligations of employers can be absurd and are at war with a proper conception of freedom of contract. You can see the results: hopelessly sclerotic labor markets. People are rather loath to hire because their options for terminating a problem employee are so circumscribed.

  8. This should serve as a wakeup call to employers. Be sure to not make assumptions when it is a slow workday and an employee asks if he can get off at noon.

    1. That area is exactly the same as the use of alcoholic beverages on the job The charges are usually ‘while intoxicated’ or ‘while impaired’ or ‘under influence of’ while using tobacco is considered a health issue for other employees.

      Beyond alcohol or tobacco or marijuana though the use of or dealing in the other drugs such as opiods, opium derivatives or cocaine and derivatives now out does wars for deaths and should be classified as the same as weapons of mass destruction and an act of terrorism therefore coming under not regular Constitutional ‘probable cause with civil rights but under the acts of or supporting acts of terrorism using ‘suspicion of’ in place of ‘civil rights’

      Which is exactly where the Patriot Act provisions for terrorism as last extended sand broadened by President Obama places such items. (as part of the end of the year budget bill for Dec 2015.)

      That can be extended to alcohol or marijuana if the amounts caused the user to be impaired to the point of going beyond a health issue and crossing into the ‘causing death, causing damage to property, or causing injury to others.

      The use of as a terrorist act as a WMD is the federal level. The lesser for alcohol tobacco or marijuana at the State level as a health and safety issue.

      Classifying the ‘hard drugs’ the addictive uses is certainly killing enough citizens from children to adults to qualify as WMD and that would open up the ability of countering them to use of military action be it a case of enemies foreign or enemies domestic

      1. That was one of the few things Congress and President Obama togehter (Senate was 85 for 15 against) did right but it lacks only the WMD classification for the drugs.

        This would allow direct military action with the civil rights etc portion safely removed as it was removed for the other acts or support of acts of terrorism.

        I noted that unless in a classified portion of the Patriot Act No Citizen exempted nor is The Congress or any other Government employee. Saves a lot of time and trouble by excluding the court systems or use of jail time and precludes the use of attorneys when ‘probable cause, habeas corpus etc are no longer in the mix.

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