There is a new definition of working from home when your boss can track you 24/7 and you don’t even know its happening.
Intermex employee, Myrna Arias knew her boss would be fully monitoring her work and professional life, but was unaware that her boss could tap into her whole life. Upon receiving the job she was told to install an app called Xora that would track her whereabouts using a GPS system as she drove around Central Valley in California as part of her job. Yet even when off the job the traker never stopped. Arias filed a lawsuit when her boss “admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty.
When she discovered this she immediately deleted the app off her phone which resulted in her being fired. Arias seeked out a wrongful-termination lawsuit saying the termination cost her lost wages and breach of privacy totaling to more than $500,000 in damages.
The company, which is a wire transfer service, decline to make any comments on the lawsuit.
Many other companies expect some sort of tracking service of their employees as well. Many times they are asked to install an app similar to the one Arias had to download. So it is not an unusual requirement for employers who do their jobs on the go.
The Aberdeen Group conducted a report that said 54 percent of companies who provide service call work to their workers, track their location and time on the job.
The tracking is put in place not only so the employer knows their worker is doing their job, but for safety concerns as well.
The GPS system is also known to save employers on gas cost by ensuring their workers are going the best cost efficient route to the job.
Their boss will also know if they stopped unexpectedly for a long period of time indicating they are not working.
Arias was fine with these guidelines for the reason she was being tracked, but felt it was wrong that she was being tracked past working hours as she was required to keep her company phone on at all times.
“Employers are entitled, if there is a legitimate business reason, to track,” said Aria’s Lawyer in an interview with Gail Glick from Bloomberg. “What we’re saying is that you don’t have a right to track 24 hours a day.”
It is true according to the Wall Street Journal that courts determined it legal for companies to track their employees while on the job. Meaning they can read work emails or go through the company computer’s search history and data to see what you have been looking at.
But that does not count for at home computers or personal emails. So the same goes for tracking during after-work hours. The privacy of the employer is then given back.
“Employees absolutely have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their movements while they’re off duty,” said Lauren Teukolsky, a California attorney who specializes in labor issues.
Whatever an employee decides to do off duty is completely up to them and should not be a determinant in their job position Teukolsky later adds.
Arias filed her case in California which has a particular stronger privacy protection for employers than most other states.
California Penal Code states:
“No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person.”
So Arias case is a particularly serious matter in terms of violating privacy.
“This is a free country,” said Glick, Aria’s attorney.
“They abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment, and she felt like it was involuntary servitude.”
Her case may affect the whole system of how employees on the go are tracked.
Image via Xora