Interviewee: James Crumlin
Bone, McAllester, Norton
The same, basic GPS tracking that was a key element in a recent Supreme Court case is available to BV practices that provide cell phones and laptops to their own employees. Is it a smart idea to use it?
The technology is new and the law remains unsettled. All the more reason to turn to a knowledgeable attorney. Our choice is James Crumlin, a Partner in the Nashville law firm of Bone, McAllester, Norton. James specializes in the area of employment law.
Borrowman: The sort of GPS tracking that comes embedded in so much of today’s technology offers an opportunity for BV practices to be more confident that their employees really are where they say they are. Why shouldn’t they use it?
Crumlin: To begin with, there are some instances where using the tracking makes sense and might be justified. Maybe you need to know that your delivery driver isn’t going off course. Or, that your home health worker is completing patient rounds properly. The key is a “legitimate business purpose”.
Borrowman: The technology that a BV practice issues to its staff can be a serious investment. Wouldn’t it be a legitimate business purpose to simply want to know where it is?
Crumlin: In the end, though, you’re tracking the employee. So, that’s where you have to look. Is there any real business purpose to that? In the case of BV employees, I just don’t think so.
Borrowman: In one sense, this is a tug of war over an employee’s right to privacy. And it looks like the employee is winning. Are there areas where the pendulum has swung in the other direction?
Crumlin: Absolutely. It’s been demonstrated time and again that an employee has no expectation of privacy when storing files, images and so forth on employer-provided laptops or computers.
Borrowman: In the case of the GPS tracking, though, you’re suggesting that BV practices just stay away from it?
Crumlin: It just raises a lot of privacy concerns. You can get into so much trouble in trying to track employees. Don’t try it.