The Italian Labor Court of Catania (the “Sicilian Court”), with its recent decision of 27 June 2017, ruled for the first time in Italy that employers may notify employees of their dismissals through WhatsApp (a ubiquitous smartphone texting application).   WhatsApp messages are now valid and legally equivalent to the traditional – and mandatory – “written notice of dismissal”.

Because WhatsApp messages show the actual date and time of receipt (“grey double check” and “blue double check” protocols), the applicable Italian legal requirements for judicial evidence are duly satisfied with this more contemporary means of electronic communication.

The Sicilian Court declared it irrelevant whether or not the employer or one of its agents sends the dismissal message because Italian corporate rules allow the principal to ratify – with retroactive effect – an agent’s deed of dismissal sent on its behalf (the company’s technical director, in the case at issue).

The Sicilian Court also extended the legal interpretation of the “recipient’s address” from the traditional concept of personal domicile (one’s home address) to anywhere the recipient can read messages on his/her smartphone.

Let’s all make sure we check timely our mail and messages!

Bryan Cave has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers with employees dismissal procedures and discipline. If you or your organization would like more information on the dismissal procedure and Workers’ Statute of Rights, the Sicilian Court’s decision, or any other employment issue, please contact an attorney in our Labor and Employment practice group.