Employer to pay damages for failure to comply

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In Germany, a court has ordered an employer to pay damages to a former employee. The former employee received €5,000 in damages from his former employer who had failed to comply with a Subject Access Request (SAR).

This case was about the claims of a former employee who asked for data related to him. Unfortunately, the former employer only fulfilled its obligation hesitantly and incompletely, over a period of several months. The dissatisfied former employee made a claim for damages in the amount of €140,000 (calculated, it seems, on his annual salary).

The court agreed the GDPR had been breached and ordered the employer to pay damages for the poor response to the legitimate request. The court awarded €500 for each of the first two months of delayed information and €1,000 for each of the three further months of delay as well as EUR 1,000 for two (unspecified) ‘defects’ in the information provided.


  • Those in receipt of SARs need to take the implementation of the GDPR seriously – people are increasingly likely to resort to litigation to obtain what they are entitled to under data protection law.
  • It is advisable even for small and medium-sized companies to develop a means to facilitate handling requests for information from former employees (and third parties).
  • This is one of the very few cases where there is any guidance about how damages can be calculated for failing to comply with a SAR and suggests that the ‘going rate’ is €500 – €1000 pcm of delay, and €500 per failure to provide appropriate information.
  • Norm’s Data Protection offerings can help your organisation deal with SARs from individuals.

If you’d like to know more about Subject Access Requests the Information Commissioner’s Office have published a useful code of practice when dealing with information requests from individuals.