Can My Employer Track My Location On My Personal Device?

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An AOL Jobs reader asks:

I am a route sales person and have been working for my company for several years. Recently, they decided to go to an app-based order entry system and required us to purchase tablets from an approved list. Rumors began circling that the new app could be used to trace our whereabouts while running our routes. Therefore, I did a little research and found that, in fact, the app my company was purchasing could track us. Of course, I did not know whether or not that ability would be paid for or utilized. However, my GM confided in me that, in fact, he will have these tracking abilities. This disclosure has not been made publicly by my company, or the app developer in our training sessions. Nor did the app require us to agree to any terms. Just to be clear, while I do receive a W2, the company provides NOTHING to me in regards to completion of my job. I drive my own car, pay for my own gas, use my own cell phone, pay for my own cellular plan, use my personal tablet, pay for my own data plan, etc. If any of these were even offered, while I still wouldn't agree with it, I couldn't complain about the tracking. However, as it is, I wonder about the legalities. Can you provide me with any suggestions or advice? Thanks for your time!

So your company made you buy a tablet with your own money and pay for your own data plan, and now they want to install an app that tracks your location on your personal device? That's pretty outrageous.

Still, there's no law against employers making you use personal devices. Once they make you use your personal device, many employers will insist on installing apps that can do things like track your location or even remotely erase the content of your device. I think that's terrible but there's no law against it.

There's not even a law requiring that employers reimburse you for mileage in using your personal vehicle. However, there is a law saying employers can't make you pay for your own personal protective equipment, such as earplugs, gloves, respirators, gloves and foot protection.

The good news is that employers who make employees use their personal devices and vehicles for business use can be liable for what employees do with those devices and vehicles. For instance, employers can be liable for injuries to third parties when employees drive personal vehicles.

Going back to the matter of tracking your location with an app, there's nothing illegal about employers tracking you. Yes, employers can make you install an app on your own device that tracks your whereabouts, even during your free time. There's no law against employer tracking of employees. Should there be? Heck yes. Talk to your state and federal representatives if you think there should be laws protecting your privacy. Until employees speak up, employee rights will continue to be eroded.

In the meantime, you certainly have the right to look for a job elsewhere and leave a job where your employer doesn't respect your privacy or property.

If you need legal advice, it's best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state, but if you have general legal issues you want me to discuss publicly here, whether about discrimination, working conditions, employment contracts, medical leave, or other employment law issues, you can ask me at AOL Jobs.

Please note: Anything you write to me may be featured in one of my columns. I won't be able to respond individually to questions.
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