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Can I Use GPS or Phone Apps to Track My San Diego Worker’s Movements?

In brief, yes, a San Diego business can use a GPS device or a smartphone app to track the geo-spatial movements of its workers as long as it informs those employees BEFORE beginning such tracking.

San Diego Corporate Law: Background on Geo-Spatial Tracking of Workers

There is a lot of technology and many phone apps that allow for the constant tracking of a person’s geospatial location. There are many legitimate business reasons why a business might want to track the location of its employees during work hours, particularly if the employee is using a company truck or car. Such rationales include:

  • Verifying deliveries and routes
  • Liability protection — is the worker complying with traffic laws? Did the worker go to a bar which might indicate alcohol use and driving while under the influence?
  • Deterring possible non-work and/or criminal activity — if a worker knows he/she is being monitored, this deters activity that is non-work related and/or criminal
  • Lost productivity
  • Verifying wage/hour claims and records (for hourly workers)
  • Ability to track company property with respect to theft or loss
  • Limitation of legal liability
  • Avoidance of litigation

In general, monitoring of employee activity is allowed under California law. Over three quarters of employers conduct some sort of monitoring. See ABC news report here. Monitoring is legal, particularly if there are legitimate business reasons for the monitoring. Employer’s rights are heightened where the employee is using company resources such as a company computer, a company internet or phone account, or a company vehicle.

San Diego Corporate Law: Your Business Needs a Written Company Policy and Consent

If you find that your San Diego business has the need to monitor and track the location of your employees, you should consult a good corporate attorney and have a written company policy drafted. Your business should also endeavor to have workers sign consent forms to the monitoring, although “continuing to work” can be considered consent under many circumstances. Consent is arguably needed for GPS tracking. See, for example, Cal. Penal Code, ยง 637.7 (prohibiting use of GPS without consent). There is currently no such carve-out allowing employers to require GPS tracking through smart phones.

Some things to include in your well-drafted company policy:

  • Business justifications
  • Clear disclosure about what devices (computers, vehicles, etc.) are subject to monitoring
  • Clear disclosure of the times during which monitoring occurs — work hours only, 24/7, etc.
  • Statement that workers should have “no expectation of privacy” while working — this is the current US Supreme Court language with respect to Fourth Amendment privacy rights
  • Notification of disciplinary consequences of misuse of company resources
  • Prohibition on disabling or uninstalling the tracking device/software and consequences for doing so

Contact San Diego Corporate Law Today

If you would like more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard has extensive experience in drafting employee policies, employee handbooks, employment contracts, and the other contracts and agreements necessary for running your business. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email.

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Can I Use GPS or Phone Apps to Track My San Diego Worker's Movements?


Schedule a Consultation: 858.483.9200