‘Timecard’ App Tracks Workers, Woman Says

     BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CN) – A money-transfer company fired an employee for refusing to install an app that would track her location even when she was off the clock, the woman claims in court.
     Myrna Arias sued Intermex Wire Transfer LLC in Kern County Superior Court on May 5.
     Headquartered in Miami, Florida, Intermex describes itself on its website as ” a leading processor of money-transfer services in the U.S. to Latin America corridor.”
     It has 30,000 locations worldwide and offers services in 45 states and 16 Latin American countries, the website adds.
     Arias says she worked for Intermex as a sales executive and account manager from February 2014 to May 2014.
     She was still working for rival NetSpend Corporation when she was hired. Her boss, Intermex’s regional vice president of sales John Stubits, agreed to let her work for both NetSpend and Intermex for three months until she qualified for Intermex’s medical insurance because she was suffering from a severe vitamin B-12 deficiency and did not want to lose her treatment, according to the complaint.
     Arias says she did well at her job, meeting all her quotas and earning around $7,250 a month.
     But everything changed in April 2014, when she claims Stubits told her and several other employees to download an app from Xora onto their smartphones that “contained a global positioning system function which tracked the exact location of the person possessing the smartphones on which it was installed.”
     Xora Inc., now ClickSoftware Solution, is not a party to the complaint.
     According to a September 2011 press release, the app enables employees to create electronic timecards on their phones to track when their shifts start, when they take breaks, and when a shift ends.
     Plaintiff attorney Gail Glick told Courthouse News that Arias was one of the first employees asked to put the app on her phone.
     “They were guinea pigs,” Glick said.
     Arias says in her complaint that she researched the app and asked Stubits if Intermex would be tracking her whereabouts when she was off the clock.
     “Stubits admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she had installed the app on her phone,” Arias says in her complaint. “Plaintiff expressed that she had no problem with the app’s GPS function during work hours, but she objected to the monitoring of her location during non-work hours and complained to Stubits that this was an invasion of her privacy. She likened the app to a prisoner’s ankle bracelet and informed Stubits that his actions were illegal. Stubits replied that she should tolerate the illegal intrusion because Intermex was paying plaintiff more than NetSpend.”
     Stubits also told Arias she had to keep her phone on “24/7” to assist clients, and “scolded” her when she uninstalled the app to protect her privacy, the complaint adds.
     Arias says Intermex fired her a few weeks later.
     Glick said that an employer can legally monitor employees at work if there is a “legitimate business interest” to do so.
     “But if an employee can’t stop it, then that is a complete violation of California and federal laws against invasion of privacy,” she said.
     Arias objected to the app because there was no way to turn it off when she was at home. Even if she shut down the app on her phone, it would still be running in the background, Glick said.
     “She found it very offensive that they were treating her like a felon,” she added. “She was not underperforming, so there was no reason to monitor her.”
     To make matters worse, Glick said, Intermex was so angry at her objection to the app that it went “above and beyond a normal wrongful termination and interfered with her ability to earn a livelihood.”
     Arias says in her complaint that Robert Lisy, Intermex’s president and CEO, “telephoned John Nelson, vice president of NetSpend, and informed Nelson that plaintiff had been disloyal to NetSpend and was employed by Intermex. As a result of Lisy’s intentional and malicious interference with plaintiff’s contract with NetSpend, NetSpend fired plaintiff promptly. NetSpend specifically cited Lisy’s phone call as the reason for the decision to terminate plaintiff,” the complaint states.
     Lisy, Nelson and NetSpend are not parties to the complaint.
     With two black marks against her and a gap in her employment record, Arias has had a hard time finding a new job, Glick said.
     Representatives for Intermex did not respond to comment requests by press time.
     Arias seeks an injunction and general, special and punitive damages for invasion of privacy, retaliation, labor code violations, intentional interference with contract, wrongful termination and unfair business practices.
     Her attorney Gail A. Glick is with Alexander, Krakow & Glick of Santa Monica. “We intend to pursue this aggressively and get her the justice she deserves,” Glick said. “What we have here is a really egregious situation, and we are hoping to right that wrong.”

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