Can Employers Use GPS to Track Employees?

November 23, 2022 Published by

GPS technology gives employers powerful tools for keeping tabs on the location of vehicles, equipment, and the employees who operate them. Employers can easily track employees in the field through the GPS devices in their vehicles or in company-owned phones.

Tracking employee location with GPS offers many benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency through streamlined routing and deliveries.
  • Ensuring employee compliance with traffic rules and safety regulations.
  • Monitoring compliance with overtime regulations and safety laws.
  • Verifying time sheets (or logging time electronically) and compliance with company rules and regulations for the use of company vehicles.

However, every company that uses GPS is subject to privacy laws. It is important to consider the ramifications of employee privacy rights when setting up your GPS monitoring system.

Monitoring employee vehicles

There is a very simple standard for tracking the vehicles that employees use on the job:

If the company owns the vehicle, the company can use GPS to track it. If the employee owns the vehicle, then the company needs permission from the employee to track it with GPS.

Eleven states (Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia classify attempts to track another person’s location with GPS as a form of stalking. Nine states (Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin) prohibit installation of a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without the consent of the owner. Six states (California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia) prohibit tracking another person through GPS on their phone.

There have been cases in which employees sued their employers for tracking them through GPS monitors on company-owned cars and phones. The courts ruled in favor of the right of employers to track their property, that is, their fleet vehicles and their phones. To avoid this issue, companies need to establish a policy of tracking fleet vehicles and company-owned phones with GPS, informing their employees that accepting the policy is a condition of employment. Better yet, companies can get employees to “sign off” on the use of tracking when they check out company vehicles and phones.

Where companies can get into legal trouble is installing GPS on employee-owned vehicles. The State of New York accused an employee of fraudulently claiming overtime on the basis of GPS tracking on the employee’s (not the state’s) car. The court ruled that the State unlawfully monitored the employee’s vehicle before and after work hours. On the other hand, cab drivers in New York lost a suit over 24/7 data collection from a GPS monitor that the state had ordered to be installed in all cabs, because they did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Best Practice for GPS Tracking

If your company wants to use GPS tracking systems to monitor employees for any reason, it is a good idea to consider implementing the following best practices first:

  • Know the laws of the state or states in which you operate. Refer questions to your attorney. Don’t guess what the law means.
  • Create a written policy for GPS tracking. Outline the business reasons for collecting GPS data, how the data will be used, and how it will be safeguarded. Let employees know the consequences of violating GPS tracking policy in advance. Communicate the policy to all employees and collect written confirmation that they have been informed of the policy.
  • Install GPS tracking devices in company-owned vehicles and phones, not employee-owned vehicles and phones. There are many reasons it is best for company employees to use company vehicles and phones on the job, including worker comp and liability insurance.
  • Limit employee tracking to business needs. Using telematics to track fuel efficiency, engine performance, tire pressure, and so on is clearly an ordinary and necessary business activity. Tracking employee location is necessary only when employees are using company vehicles and equipment, or when they are on the job.
  • Be considerate of your employees. Limit your monitoring to clearly work-related purposes, and make sure their data is secure.

Whether your company operates one vehicle or a fleet of thousands, GPS Technologies has the hardware, software, and installation expertise you need. Contact us for more information at (847) 382-5107 or request a quote online today!

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