Employer sued over 24/7 GPS tracking vendor

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A lawsuit filed in California last month raises questions for companies that track employees via GPS. The case arose after an employee learned that her employer was tracking her movements whether she was on duty or not.

According to Myrna Arias’ complaint against Intermex Wire Transfer, her former employer, Arias worked as a sales manager for the company in Bakersfield, California from February to May 2014. In April 2014, Intermex asked her and other employees to download the Xora application on their smartphones. The app contained a GPS feature that tracked employees’ locations via their smartphones (Xora’s website advertises an app that lets you “see the location of every mobile worker on a
Google
Map [and] Explore an individual worker to see where they’ve been, the route they’ve traveled, and where they are now. »

After researching the app, Arias and some colleagues became concerned. They asked John Stubits, regional vice president of sales at Intermex, if the app would be used to track them outside of work hours. Stubits, who declined to comment, admitted employees would be monitored outside working hours and said that since Arias installed the app, he knew how fast she was driving at specific times. Although she has no problem being followed during work hours, Arias said she objects to being followed during her free time – she compared it to wearing an anklet under house arrest .

Nonetheless, Stubits told Arias she had to keep her phone on “24/7” to answer customer calls. In late April, Arias uninstalled the app to protect her privacy and was reprimanded by Stubits. A few weeks later, Intermex fired her.

In his lawsuit, Arias makes claims that include invasion of privacy and wrongful dismissal in violation of public order. The lawsuit includes additional claims that are not directly related to GPS tracking, but rather to actions taken by Intermex CEO Robert Lisy that impaired the plaintiff’s ability to work for another company. Lisy did not return phone calls. Arias seeks damages of $500,000.

The case is particularly important because, as employees are increasingly expected to be always available, they mix their professional and personal activities during normal office hours. “So even during the work day, it’s not necessarily okay to track,” said Gail Glick, the attorney representing Arias. And, given the ubiquity of smart phones, the case makes it easy for employers to “cross the line,” she added.

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