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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Former State Employee Says|N.Y. Tracked Him Via GPS

(CN) - The New York Department of Labor fired an employee based on data it gleaned from a GPS device placed on his car without a warrant, the employee claims in Albany County Supreme Court.

Michael Cunningham claims the state tracked him for a month, including on evenings and weekends, and during a weeklong family vacation.

Cunningham, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, filed an action seeking "to vindicate the right of New York government employees to be free from unconstitutional, warrantless invasions of their privacy using Global Position Service tracking devices."

"Your boss can't sit in the backseat of your car and watch you, your wife and your children 24 hours a day, but that's exactly what the Department of Labor did to Mr. Cunningham," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.

Cunningham says the agency planted the GPS device on his personal car to investigate "workplace misconduct" and then used it to illegally watch his activities.

"The device tracked the daily movements of Mr. Cunningham and his family at all times for one month, including evenings and weekends and while they went on a long-planned, weeklong family vacation out of state," the lawsuit states.

The New York Department of Labor fired Cunningham based on evidence gathered from the tracking device, and a hearing officer upheld his firing.

Cunningham demands reinstatement and an order declaring that his employer's actions violated the Constitution.

"The courts have already prohibited police from using GPS devices to track people without a warrant," Lieberman said in a statement, referring to an August D.C. Circuit ruling requiring police to get a warrant before they can track suspects via GPS.

"We're confident they will hold the government agencies to the same standard," Lieberman said. "The only thing scarier than having a police officer secretly track you is having your boss secretly track you."

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