We’ve talked before about the various ways in which businesses have been tracking their employees. For a while, there was increasing focus on the practice by some employers of requiring job applicants or employees to hand over their passwords or allow access to their private accounts on social-networking sites in order to gather personal data when the social-networking profiles are closed to the public. States including California, Delaware, Illinois and Maryland passed laws to protect employees from such prying by employers; Maryland’s law includes exemptions for employers for some investigations into possible wrongdoing by employees.
Employers are also using key-logging technology to monitor workers’ keystrokes and Internet-tracking software to log the sites that employees visit. And business have also been tracking the movements of their workers.
Such monitoring and tracking by businesses of workers using company equipment during business hours has become more accepted. But a recent case raises the question of what it means for an employer to track workers even when they’re off the clock. Ars Technica and others reported on the case of Myrna Arias, a California woman who is a former employee of Intermex, a money transfer service. Arias, according to Ars, “claims in a state court lawsuit that her boss, John Stubits, fired her shortly after she uninstalled the job-management Xora app that she and her colleagues were required to use.”
The app was installed on an Intermex-issued smartphone that Arias says she was required to carry with her and keep turned on at all times to answer calls from clients. The app logged her location all day, even during non-work hours. According to her lawsuit, her boss bragged about being able to know how fast she was driving, among other data.
As technology makes it easier for employers to track workers, questions will continue to arise. Especially with location information, there can be significant privacy concerns. Most people have set patterns for their days — work, school, home or a few other select locations. Any abnormalities, such as heading to a medical center with a focus on substance abuse, would be easy to spot. This case will wind its way through the courts, which could be a years-long process, so for Arias, there will likely be no quick resolution.