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Every breath you take. Every move you make. Every bond you break. Every step you take. I'll be watching you. --The Police
Has no one ever thought that song was creepy? Who wants someone stalking every step they take? Myrna Arias, former employee of Intermex, definitely did not want her boss monitoring every move she made 24 hours a day.
Last week, Arias filed a lawsuit in California against Intermex for invasion of privacy, wrongful termination, and unfair business practices. Why? She was fired for deleting an employer-required app that tracked her movements all day, every day.
Last year, Myrna Arias began working for Intermex as a regional sales executive. Her job required her to drive throughout Central California selling Intermex machines to business owners.
To track employees' movements, Intermex required all employees to use an app called Xora. Xora lets employees clock in and out, fill out forms and log trips, and tracks workers' locations via GPS. The company required employees to keep their phone on all day, allowing the company to track employee movements even outside of business hours.
While Arias was not worried about her employer tracking her during business hours, she did not want him tracking her on her own time. According to Arias, she and another coworker complained about the tracking and deleted the app. Both employees were fired soon after.
So, can an employer monitor your movements?
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which applies to public employers and employees, gives employees a right to privacy, protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizures by their employers. Some states, including California, provide residents with a statutory right to privacy that could extend to private employers and employees s well.
The California Constitution protects employees' privacy where they have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." But, courts have sided with employers with regards to email monitoring, video surveillance at work, and Internet usage monitoring when employers had valid business purposes for their conduct.
However, in this case, Arias arguably has a reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to her movements outside of work. Also, it would be hard to argue the employer has a valid business purpose for knowing where she goes in the evenings or on weekends.
Intermex's monitoring brings a whole new meaning to the word micromanage, and we'll probably have to wait a while to see if the courts will side with employees' right to privacy -- or an employer's right to know everything that might somehow impact their business.