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BY: Tad T. Roumayah | IN: Employment Law
Employees who travel as part of their job probably think they have more freedom than most other workers. While this may be true, employees should be forewarned: your employer could be keeping track of you with a GPS device.
The use of GPS is particularly prevalent in the transportation and delivery services industries. This is because GPS devices installed on company-owned vehicles can be helpful in checking the delivery status of a package or providing assistance when a vehicle breaks down. In these situations, the employee is probably aware that a GPS device has been attached to the vehicle and that his or her movements are being tracked.
But employers have now turned to using GPS to investigate alleged misconduct in the workplace. Is this legal? Or does it violate the employee’s right to privacy, possibly triggering an invasion of privacy claim?
This area of the law is relatively new, so the answers to these questions are not cut and dry. Only a handful of courts (Law360 subscription required) have addressed whether employers can legally use GPS to investigate suspected employee misconduct. In the few rulings that have been issued, the critical factor is whether the GPS device was installed on a company-owned vehicle or a personal vehicle.
Here are some of the cases that have discussed GPS tracking of employees.
Other cases, however, show that the extent to which a personal vehicle is used for work purposes can alter the invasion of privacy analysis.
In two decisions involving taxi drivers who personally owned their cabs, a New York City court ruled the drivers had no expectation of privacy in data gathered from GPS devices installed on their vehicles. The city had a legitimate interest in determining whether the drivers were overcharging passengers, the court said, and information was only obtained during work hours.
Based on these rulings, employees should be aware that:
As technology continues to permeate the workplace, the privacy issues confronted by employees will become more complicated. We will continue to monitor developments in this area of the law.
If you believe your rights have been violated by means of GPS tracking, contact the Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group today to explore your options.
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View all posts byTad T. Roumayah
Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.