Woman Fired For Deleting Her Employer's Creepy GPS Tracker

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
It's understandable that an employer may want to track sales employees' travels to ensure efficiency and optimize their schedules. But, a Southern California woman is claiming this practice went way too far: She is suing after being fired for disabling her employer's GPS app, which was tracking her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The suit is another example of how easy it is to track an individual in the age of smartphones, and how that data should be properly handled.

Plaintiff Myrna Arias worked as a sales executive for wire-transfer service Intermex in 2014. She and colleagues were required to use Xora, a productivity app that collects location, time, and job information. After doing some research, Arias realized the app was tracking her movements all the time, even when she wasn't on call for work. She brought up the issue with her manager.

According to the suit, John Stubits, her manager, "admitted that employees would be monitored while off-duty, and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she installed the app on her phone." Arias objected to being monitored during non-working hours, saying it was an invasion of privacy and illegal. Stubits basically said "deal with it." Arias deleted the app, was scolded for doing so, and was fired a few weeks later.

The filing says that "this intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person." We're inclined to agree. Knowing your employees aren't making a pit stop at the local dive bar between sales calls is one thing; knowing where they are on their Saturday nights is another. It's true that Arias could have fixed the situation by turning off her phone's GPS functionality when not on duty (admittedly an inconvenience if she ever needed to look up directions), or by having personal and work cell phones and leaving the work phone off and at home during non-working hours. But, if she wasn't provided with a work cell phone and was required to download this app on her personal phone, we can certainly understand the lawsuit for gross privacy breach. 

Arias is now suing for claims of invasion of privacy, retaliation, and unfair business practices, and is seeking $500,000 in damages for being tracked during times she wasn't working. [Ars Technica]
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