Companies Tracking Employees' Every Move

ByABC News
January 4, 2001, 12:24 PM

N E W   Y O R K, Jan. 4 -- Memo to American workers: Many big employers admit they are watching you with cameras, reading your e-mails or listening in on your phone calls. And now a growing number have gone a step further.

At the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, pediatric nurses are required to wear electronic locators that monitor them wherever they go.

Every time a nurse goes into a room, it records that, says Inez Wiegig, head nurse at the center.

Some employees think the monitor, which also records how long a person stays in a room, makes their job easier.

Things that need to be accomplished right away, you can actually find the nurse and get those things accomplished, says nurse Nicole Hodgebloom.

Helps Increase Productivity

The city of Aurora, Colo., has put tracking devices inside its sweepers and snowplows to make sure theyre being used as taxpayers intended. Supervisor and project engineer Lynn Center says its working.

We have seen an overall increase in productivity for our units, about 15 percent, just by having the units in the vehicles, Center says.

And truck driver Maria Coleman is also under constant surveillance while working. She says she doesnt mind it, but she doesnt kid herself about it, either.

Its Big Brother. Its watching you, making sure you do what youre supposed to do, but if you are doing what youre supposed to be doing then you shouldnt have a problem, Coleman says.

All sorts of industries are using tracking devices, among them security guards, casinos and restaurant workers and miners often with no problem.

Invasion of Privacy?

But lots of employees and civil libertarians do have a problem with workers being asked to wear electronic tracking devices, especially devices originally designed for felons on parole. They say the technology is easily abused.

Officials at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn say they require nurses to wear personal tracking devices to improve care, but the local nursing representative calls the practice a clear violation of privacy.