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Employers considering GPS monitoring of their employees should inform them of their plan and make certain such monitoring does not spill into workers' private lives to avoid potential legal liability, observers say.
This advice stems from last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States vs. Antoine Jones, in which the court ruled that the FBI and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department violated the Fourth Amendment in placing a GPS device Mr. Jones' wife's car to gather information on a suspected drug dealer.
Tracking devices are used frequently by em-ployers to track their delivery trucks, although there is no hard data on such usage.
While many employers already inform employees about GPS tracking, the Supreme Court's ruling should make employers “more conscientious in how they inform their employees of what kind of tracking is being done,” said Evan Brown, an associate with Hinshaw & Culbertson L.L.P. in Chicago.
There is no rule that says employers have to tell employees they are tracking them via GPS, said Jonathan T. Hyman, a partner with Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L. in Cleveland.
“But I think if you're going to take something away from this decision, it is that there is some expectation of privacy in people's locations, and there may be situations” in which an employer overreaches or extends GPS monitoring to off-the-clock activity, which “may go beyond what is reasonable even in private employment relationships,” Mr. Hyman said.
Michael R. Overly, a partner with law firm Foley & Lardner L.L.P. in Los Angeles, said, however, “Most employers are smart enough to draw the line and say, "If we don't need it, we don't need to collect it.'”