“Many companies that provide business or transportation services install GPS tracking devices on company vehicles to track their employees,” as well as to track compliance with wage-and-hour laws and to monitor violations of company policy, Goldberg Segalla’s Caroline J. Berdzik writes in Bus & Motorcoach News. “However,” she cautions, “when employers use GPS data in connection with investigations without an employee’s knowledge, they could be exposing the companies to claims of privacy violations and infringement on constitutional rights.”
Any GPS data from an employee’s personal vehicle, Caroline points out, “could be deemed an unreasonable search.” Furthermore, if any data was collected from a personal vehicle while the employee was not working, all data collected “may potentially be deemed unlawfully obtained.”
Smartphones are another complicating factor. Employers who use apps for monitoring “could potentially run into issues if such apps are always tracking employees’ whereabouts, not just during company time.” The legality of such employer policies becomes even murkier as technology advances and becomes more deeply integrated with employees’ daily lives. Caroline cites the example of the Wisconsin company 3 Square Market, which offers employees microchips to be inserted into their hands, and “used to access buildings, log onto computers, and purchase food.”
Generally, employers must be cognizant of significant differences among state laws. But, no matter the state, “If employers intend on tracking their employees utilizing technology, they should provide notice to the employees and clearly state that GPS monitoring may be used in connection with the use of company equipment.,” Caroline writes.