A group of Verizon technicians is appealing a court decision that upheld the company's right to use global positioning system devices to track employees' whereabouts.
The appeal was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In the original suit, filed in Massachusetts District Court July 2009, the workers said that Verizon had breached the terms of the contract with its unionized technicians as well as violated their right to privacy under the Massachusetts constitution.
For the employees, the issue is informed consent. They maintain that under the contract with the union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, requires such consent before enabling that kind of tracking technology.
The company contended that it had every right to know where its employees and its equipment were, as the GPS tracking was enabled on company-issued cell phones and computers designated for use on the job.
The state court found that the privacy issue was pre-empted by Federal labor law, and as such the suit had to be litigated there, as opposed to the District Court.
In their appeal, the Verizon technicians say the court was wrong when it said Federal labor law took precedence, and also wrong in granting summary judgment in favor of Verizon without giving the plaintiffs an opportunity to present their case.
Privacy rights of employees vary from state to state; in some it is forbidden to track employees when off-duty, while others have a looser standard.