Is it legal for my employer to add a location tracking service to my company issued cell phone which I have to carry with me even when off duty?

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Is it legal for my employer to add a location tracking service to my company issued cell phone which I have to carry with me even when off duty?

My employer is adding a “location services” application to my company issued phone. I understand that the phone is their property and they can add whatever they wish to it. My issue is that I am required to always be available and so I have to carry the phone 24/7. Is it legal for my employer to add a tracking application to a mobile device I have to have with me both on and off company time? I feel this would be an invasion of my privacy.

Asked on June 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

My initial impression is that yes, this is legal. The phone is company property the same as a company car or employer provided laptop woud be. The fact is that, generally speaking, there are no hard and fast rules on this in many states. However, the fact is that employees typically have no expectation of privacy in the workplace (or extended workplace as in this case). Since you are required to carry the phone with you at all times, including your "off" hours, you have a good argument that your privacy rights apply. Conversely, your employer's argument would be that since you're "on call" and it is paying for the use of the phone, you do not have an enforceable expectation of privacy, especially since you have been put on notice that your movements will be monitored.

So, depending on the exact facts of your case, your employer may or may not be able to do this. At this point you can contact your state's department of labor to inquire further or you can consult with an employment law attorney in your area; they will best be able to advise you as to specific state law.


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