More and More Employers Use Smartphones to Track Employees

A lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California last week alleges that the plaintiff, Myrna Arias, was improperly fired after disabling a smartphone app which her employer used to track her off-duty movements. The wire-transfer company, Intermex, requires employees to download an app called Xora StreetSmart on phones provided by the company. For about $1 per day per phone, Xora allows employees to fill out forms and clock in and out of work, but it also tracks their movements regardless of whether the worker is clocked in or not.

While such GPS tracking policies have long been used by employers to keep track of company vehicles, they are increasingly being expanded to company smartphones and other devices which field employees are required to carry on their person at all times. Off-duty monitoring gives employers insight into which businesses employees frequent, what doctors or specialists one might visit, and other consumer habits, which has concerning implications for employee privacy, according to American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst Jay Stanley.

Employers have legitimate reasons for monitoring their workers, but all too often we see that kind of tracking spilling over into the private parts of their lives… What happens if an employer doesn’t like the choices a worker makes in their personal lives and retaliates professionally?

he explained.

Tech research firm Aberdeen Group released a 2012 report which found that the proportion of employers with workers in the field (sales and delivery workers, for example) that used GPS to track employees had risen from 30 percent in 2008 to 62 percent in 2012. Few guidelines presently exist as to the legality or parameters of these practices.


Read more here – “Some companies are tracking workers with smartphone apps. What could possibly go wrong?” (Andrea Peterson, Washington Post)

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