As the workforce in the US becomes more mobile, so do the capabilities of employers to track their employees on the road. From a distance, accurately monitoring employee productivity, working hours, injuries, conduct, and company property presents a challenge. As I’m sure you’re aware, tow trucks aren’t cheap to repair or replace (how much does a tow truck cost)! The use of GPS is an excellent way to address these difficulties. Using satellites and receivers installed in a vehicle, these devices can locate your drivers’ physical locations and vehicle speeds with reasonable accuracy. However, there are several legal considerations that employers must address before using GPS technology to monitor their fleet. Let’s discuss these below.
Risks Associated with Using GPS to Monitor Your Fleet
Unreliable Data Collection
If an employer makes an employment decision based on data collected from a GPS and the information is found to be inaccurate, the employer may be subject to defamation, wrongful termination, and an employment discrimination claim.
For instance, the GPS installed in one of your driver’s tow trucks inaccurately places them at a bar near where they’re conducting repo work (how to start a repo business). Though the tow truck driver was doing their job honestly, the employer assumes that they were visiting a bar on the clock. As a result, the employee is terminated. This puts the employer at risk for claims of wrongful termination.
Employer Fails to Properly Supervise Their Drivers
If an employer discovers that a driver presents a risk to others and doesn’t act, the company is at risk for a claim of negligent supervision.
For instance, a tow truck operator tends to speed while on the job, and their employer discovers this through the GPS monitoring. The employer does nothing about this discovery, and the driver subsequently gets into an accident because he was speeding. As a result, the employer is liable for negligent supervision.
Employees may have a reasonable expectation that their location and actions are private from their employer.
For example, one of your drivers attends a support group during their lunch break during working hours. Though he does not disclose this information, the employer discovers that the employee is attending these meetings through GPS monitoring. The employer may then be held liable for invasion of privacy.
Though an employee’s membership with a group may be protected by federal and state discrimination laws, the employer may not always be aware that the employee is a member. Yet, with the use of GPS technology, an employer can sometimes discover their employees’ affiliations, thus supporting a discrimination claim.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using GPS to Monitor Your Fleet
Employers should also remain cautious of these dangers of using GPS:
- Drivers who are monitored may feel as though their employer doesn’t trust them. This may negatively affect their independent decision-making abilities.
- There may be an urge to implement unreasonable schedules becausedrivers are constantly monitored.
- The ability to monitor drivers during breaks and before and after working hours can pose issues. Thus, employers may breach the privacy that their drivers expect and prefer.
Employers reap several benefits from installing GPS monitoring into their tow trucks, such as the following:
- Increased efficiency and improved customer service.
- Better recordkeeping capabilities and improved business operations.
- More contact with drivers throughout the work day.
Remember that while the use of GPS technology can be a powerful management tool, it can become a legal nightmare. By using this technology lawfully, you can benefit the efficiency of your business while respecting the privacy of your drivers.
For more helpful tips on how to start a tow truck business, refer to our blog.