Future Tense

Sales Exec Says She Was Fired for Uninstalling GPS App That Tracked Her Constantly

Employee whereabouts are at your fingertips.

Image from StepanPopov/Shutterstock

It might sometimes feel like your boss is always on your case, but this is a whole other level. A former sales executive from the wire-transfer company Intermex alleges in a lawsuit filed May 5 that she was fired for uninstalling an app that tracked her whereabouts 24/7 and sent the data to her supervisor.

According to the suit, which was spotted by Ars Technica, Intermex made employees install the Xora GPS app so the company could track them at all times. Myrna Arias claims that she told her boss, John Stubits, that she was fine with the tracking while she was on duty, but opposed to it during her off hours and weekends. The suit alleges that a group of co-workers agreed with this position. After doing some research about Xora, Arias uninstalled the app in April 2014.

The suit, filed in Kern County Superior Court, claims privacy violations, wrongful termination, and other labor infractions. It outlines damages of more than $500,000 for lost wages. “What we have here is a really egregious situation,” Arias’s attorney Gail Glick told Courthouse News Service. The suit says:

After researching the app and speaking with a trainer from Xora, Plaintiff and her co-workers asked whether Intermex would be monitoring their movements while off duty. Stubits 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.

ClickSoftware, which makes the product Xora StreetSmart, seems to envision its product as a 9-to-5 tool, not a full-time surveillance service. The company has not responded to a request for comment. Its website says, “When your field employees start their day, they simply launch the application on their mobile devices.” But the potential for invasive abuse of the product is there. “See the location of every mobile worker on a Google Map. You can drill down on an individual worker to see where they have been, the route they have driven and where they are now,” the site explains.

Mobile phones have made it cheap, easy, and appealing for employers, insurance companies, and other groups to track their affiliates. But concerns about these programs are extensive and include the danger of unforeseen privacy violations, in addition to the obvious ones like your boss finding out that you ran an errand during work or your insurance finding out that you visit a smoke shop a few times a week. As one of my Slate colleagues said, “If that [lawsuit] is even close to what actually happened, it is terrifying.”