New York State placed GPS device on employee’s privately owned car and fired him
As I had said last week, Geolocation issues are likely to burst onto the legal scene over the coming years as the technology becomes more ubiquitous and affordable.
Now we have the story (via Digital Trends) of a New York State employee being tracked in his own private car using a GPS device.
According to the story appearing on Digital Trends’ website, the state had been looking to fire Michael Cunningham after he acted as a whistleblower during the Pataki administration. From the story:
During June 2008, an order came down from the Inspector General’s office which had a GPS device secretly placed on Cunningham’s privately-owned BMW. The Inspector General claims that the office had every right to place the device on the car while it was parked in a state-owned parking lot.
The interesting thing about this situation is that they not only tracked Cunningham during work hours (and found he was at home when he was supposed to be at work), but they also tracked him during non-working hours and even during a family vacation to Massachusetts. The information collected by the GPS ultimately led to Cunningham’s dismissal.
The ACLU has now stepped in on Cunningham’s behalf:
During December 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the state on Cunningham’s behalf requesting the removal of the GPS information and a new hearing for Cunningham. The case is currently being heard by the Appellate Division Third Judicial Department and both sides are awaiting a decision from the appeals court.
The Third Department is one four mid-level appellate courts in New York. From looking at the public records for this case, it appears the presiding judge forwarded the case to the Appellate Division to decide the issue. We’ll keep you updated on this.