A woman in California has claimed that she was fired illegally simply because she did not agree with her employer forcing her to install a GPS tracking app onto her phone which would track her movements every second of the day. The lawsuit contains a lot of warnings that could help other employers stay out of similar trouble.
The lawsuit is quite simple. The woman, Myrna Arias states that she started working for Intermix Wire Transfer in California in 2014, February. She was hired for the position of sales executive and was in charge of reporting to the regional VP for sales. She believed she was working well, was earning a good commission, and had received no discipline for her performance.
She claims that within a few months of her starting, her company forced her as well as other employees to download Xora StreetSmart, an app onto their smartphones. The app is easily available and costs around $1 a day for each employee and allows them to use their phones as a time card and to fill out any business forms for the company.
While the app is easy to use and is very convenient, it contains a GPS feature that allows the employer to constantly monitor and store data regarding the location of the user. The use of such apps has become quite popular and while normally it would not have been a problem, the employee claims that she told her superiors she didn’t have any issue with being tracked while she was at work or during work hours.
She only however objected to being tracked even when she was off-duty and that her phone had to be on for the app to monitor her. She even told her boss that it was illegal and uninstalled it in April of the same year. She claims that as a result she was scolded and then fired within a few weeks and in May, she filed the lawsuit claiming $500,000 in damages, that they had invaded her privacy, that retaliation was illegal and that it violated the state law amongst many other allegations.
What should be considered is that if a company is planning on tracking the movements of its employees using a GPS then it needs to be aware of what the law is in the state and in California, the law prohibits tracking in such instances to take place and a couple of other states to require that employees are notified in advance if they are going to be monitored. That being said, using GPS to track employees is legal as long as legitimate reasons are the basis for it and it takes place within a reasonable scope.
Furthermore, it should also be considered that if an employer is going to track and store all the personal activity of his employee, he is going to have a whole lot of personal data on his hands which won’t even be of any use to him. All the employer will be able to learn is what his staff does in their free time.
Such information could suggest that an employee belongs to a protected class and if the employer takes action against them on its basis, it could result in a discrimination lawsuit which is why showing that you have no knowledge of it is important but such a defense will not be helpful if the information is stored in a data bank by the employer.
With monitoring becoming easier day by day, companies need to figure out a way around it and hope they don’t get themselves caught in such a problem.