Europe's top human rights court has ruled that an employer that accessed the private messages of an employee to check if he was completing his work was acting within its rights.

The European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday that a Romanian firm — which fired a worker after finding 45 pages worth of personal messages in just over a week in 2007 — justifiably accessed his work Yahoo Messenger communications. It highlighted a Romanian court's assessment that this showed he was "blatantly wasting time."

It noted this case was different to some successful privacy protection cases, as the worker had been given prior warning that communications could be read by management and that sending personal messages during work hours was banned. Previously, another worker had been fired over this.