Monday, August 7, 2006

The Fingerprinting of Employees

PrivateeyeMike McCann (Miss. College) has an interesting post over at the Sports Law Blog on the employer's using various methods to keep track of the work lives of everyday employees.

From Mike's post (via a story from the July 26th Boston Globe):

Beginning today, Aramark Corp., the giant Philadelphia concessionaire that sells that overpriced beer, is requiring its Fenway employees to be fingerprinted. "Please stop by on Wednesday, July 26, 2006, or Thursday July 27, 2006, between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to pick up your paycheck and your new ID badge & to get fingerprinted," management said in a memo to employees. "New ID badge & fingerprinting is part of the new time clock system and it is a condition of employment."

All this is part of a profound corporate expansion of Big Brother in the workplace -- the so-called biometric technology revolution that uses everything from fingerprinting to retinal scans to facial recognition to keep tabs on a company's suspects, otherwise known as employees. In particular, Aramark thinks its new Fenway time-clock system will put an end to ``buddy punching" -- the practice of having a co-worker punch in for you.

I don't think under current law there is an invasion of privacy tort or anything like that as long as the employer is using the information for business-related purposes.  Of course, there is a potential for abuse when this type of information is gleaned from employees, especially with all the advances in technology.

I was listening to a radio program while I was in Pittsburgh a few days ago, and they were talking there about making traveling employees use GPS devices so that their employees knew that when they were out doing business that they were actually going where they said they were going.  Again, nothing on its face that troubling, but measures should be put into place both for the protection of the employer and the employee when such information is being gathered to make sure it is not being utilized for improper purposes -- like keeping track of the employee when they're off-duty.


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"making traveling employees use GPS devices so that their employees knew that when they were out doing business"

This is already a requirement for many delivery jobs, and of course if an employer requires workers to carry mobile phones for which the company pays bills, then the employer can ask the phone company to give it a log of phone positions, which is somewhat imprecise but interesting.

Posted by: Blissex | Aug 19, 2006 3:55:14 PM

Is there a legal basis for fighting this fingerprinting of employees practice in the courts? Who are the groups that are attempting to fight this...and what tactics are they using?

What liabilities do the employer face when they share the fingerprint information with other databases. Certainly, given the value that this data will have, employers will want to trade in this information just as they currently trade in marketing info about consumers.

Posted by: Steven | Nov 17, 2006 7:40:00 AM

Very interesting subject:
This is being introduced in England by aramark , but only for time recording of employees.
Aramark have parternships with ibm, net supliers, j p morgan. security services in U.K. and northern ireland and share information, but you can rest assured that information is for Aramark purpose only and will not be public knowledge.
Inless you need to know!!

Posted by: Malc | Jan 29, 2007 4:29:55 PM

I've seen an increasing number of work places using electronic fingerprinting for employees. I personaly find it a serious invasion of privacy. Employers already have our social secruity number. Now they want our finger prints? I find this extremely uncompforting. Not to mention it doesn't make anything any more convenient. We've had a lot more hassle to deal with the new system at my work (a cafe) than the old system which required you to push 4 buttons on a touch screen. I personaly told my employer I wanted nothing to do with their new system. They haven't forced me to use their new system yet, so I'll avoid it for as long as I can.

Posted by: Steve | Mar 11, 2007 4:04:21 AM

have been employed by same company for three years. they have recently installed thumbprint time-clock. i have nothing to hide but do not feel comfortable giving up prints. i don't know why. can they fire an employee for refusing to use thumbprint, does anyone know?

Posted by: sue | Mar 19, 2008 8:57:37 AM

My employer has required the complete fingerprinting all employees. This is not for the time clock because we do not have a biometric one. We have had some thefts as well as threats among the 45 employees. Management thinks they are being "proactive" for subsequent problems. My question.. is it legal in Louisiana for someone NOT charged or being investigated for a crime be required to submit to fingerprinting? This was not done at the beginning of employment or stated as a requirement of employment. Can someone give me some legal advice on this?

Posted by: Bryan | Feb 18, 2009 3:17:23 AM

Everybody have their own personal opinion and privacy must be observed if required. Monitoring of correct log in/out in work is very important to the progress of the company

Posted by: Roberto | Nov 9, 2013 5:12:03 PM

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