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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter Seeks to Stop Employers from GPS Tracking Off-Duty Workers

June 29, 2017
Press Release
Congresswoman’s Pro-Worker Amendment Voted Down by Committee Republicans

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today offered an amendment to stop employers from using phones to track employees’ location during their personal time during a House Education and Workforce Committee markup.

“Today I offered an amendment to Education and Workforce Committee Republicans’ so-called ‘Employee Privacy Protection Act’ that would have actually improved protections for workers,” said Shea-Porter. “Unfortunately, the majority party voted against my amendment, which would have stopped employers from using GPS cell phone data to track employees during non-work hours.”

The so-called ‘Employee Privacy and Protection Act’ was one of three anti-worker bills considered during today’s markup, that would further tilt the playing field against workers seeking to bargain for better wages and working conditions. Since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, they have convened 28 hearings and markups in the Committee on Education and the Workforce aimed at undermining workers’ rights to bargain for a better life, replacing the once bipartisan recognition of the central role of workers in the American economy and democracy with relentless partisan attacks.

 

BACKGROUND: Shea-Porter’s full remarks

“The underlying bill purports to be about employee privacy. In reality, it does little more than to further tilt the playing field in favor of employers in NLRB organizing elections.

“When it comes to employee privacy, there are certainly areas with respect to the employer-employee relationship where improvements are needed. One such area is the use of GPS technology to track employees, summed up well in an article published earlier this year in The Atlantic entitled Why Bosses Can Track Their Employees 24/7 which highlighted that: ‘There’s no federal privacy law to keep businesses from tracking their employees with GPS, and only a handful of states impose restrictions on it.’

“It is reasonable to imagine legitimate business purposes for using GPS tracking technology during business hours – while an employee is carrying out their work responsibilities. It is simply wrong, however, that this tracking should carry over into the employee’s personal time – into their personal life. Certainly, not all employers would take advantage in this way, but the fact that there is no privacy law to protect employees from such behavior is indefensible.

“My amendment seeks to improve this situation by offering a basic level of privacy protection for the employees of businesses that seek to use the lopsided process established under this bill.

“It does this by prohibiting the use of GPS tracking on employer-provided cellular phones without the knowledge and prior consent of the employee, for use during non-work hours, and for purposes other than legitimate business purposes.

“These are reasonable protections that actually improve employee privacy. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment and I yield back the balance of my time.”