There are instances where an employer needs to resort to the use of a vehicle GPS tracker to know the places visited by the employee. This is to ensure that the employees are using company-owned vehicles for work-related activities and not personal ones, illegal drug use, misusing paid sick leave, handing out company guarded secrets to the competition, and an employee is believed to be misappropriating company hours for personal gains with their own car.
A business or employer can legally install a vehicle GPS tracker into its own vehicle unit. There is no question about that. However, when it comes to the employee’s personal vehicle, there is a big chance that the answer here is a no. Let this short article be a guide to this interesting topic.
An actual case has actually been tried in New York, Cunningham versus New York State Department of Labor in 2013. The Big Apple’s Appellate Division handled a similar case wherein the employer was forced to install a vehicle tracking device into the employee’s personal car in order to obtain solid evidence.
The Dept. of Labor had suspected Michael Cunningham, a long-time veteran of the state (he was in a managerial position at the time) of submitting incorrect time reports, unauthorized absences and declaring prolonged business trips. The nature of work for Cunningham was spent most of the time in the field or in remote areas.
Soon, the State Department first hired one investigator to observe what Cunningham had been doing. They were assigned to follow the employee’s car and confirm their suspicions. For several instances, Cunningham was able to shake off the hired investigator. This led to the employer used a GPS tracking device without Cunningham’s permission.
So after one month and three GPS tracking device after, the employer was able to prove its suspicion with their employee. Disciplinary action was given to Cunningham which eventually led to termination.
The issue here of great debacle is the employee’s right to privacy. Cunningham’s activities off-work hours has also been possibly monitored. This is one of the reasons why there are GPS units out there, that has an option to disable its monitoring function during non-working hours and weekends. This is to avoid a scenario similar to Cunningham.
For those employers who are in a similar situation like Cunningham, wherein the employee is somehow abusing company policies with regards to working out in the field, get a GPS with a scheduling feature. The employer should program it that it will not be monitoring an employee after work, weekends and during holidays.
The HR department should also have a say in this particular subject matter. A policy should be enforced in the company that refrains a GPS tracking device to be disabled during non-work related hours and days.
The HR department, finally, should also be able to document everything about this special scenario if the need arises. A clear explanation why an employee needs to be subjected into these, plus a detailed explanation why a less intrusive option is not effective.