Working in California or New York? Find out how your boss is tracking you
Some privacy protections have arrived for workers certain states
UPDATED: MAY 5, 2022 | COWORKER.ORG
Employers collect an enormous amount of data from workers and are using new technologies to monitor us at work.
Here are some examples:
Teachers in West Virginia were “required to either pay a fee or participate in a workplace wellness program called ‘Healthy Tomorrows,’ which penalized members for not scoring ‘acceptable’ on a series of biometric measures.” They went on strike and got the program dropped.
“Freelancer, a platform for hiring web developers and designers, uses a technology called WorkSmart that takes screenshots of workers’ screens and then combines them with measures of app usage and keystrokes to come up with a measure of productivity.”
More than 100 employers reportedly use technology from a firm called HireVue during the interview process to “analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated ‘employability’ score.”
And that’s just scratching the surface. Coworker.org has compiled a database of more than 600 labor-focused technology products that are changing our relationship to work. Check out the full Bossware and Employment Tech database here.
There’s a broad range in terms of the type of data your boss might be gathering from you including GPS location, biometric identifiers, sentiment/mood/stress levels, internet browsing or keystroke data, health and wellness data, audio or video surveillance, productivity data, customer reviews, social media activity, and more.
This data collection starts in the hiring process and is used by employers to evaluate work performance, discipline workers, assign work, conduct background checks, or set production targets.
As Coworker.org co-founder Michelle Miller wrote: “All of these companies own vast amounts of workplace data that enables them to control nearly every aspect of our working lives, from job search and hiring to performance reviews, productivity monitoring, behavioral analytics, job reviews, and career path.”
For workers, this constant monitoring and data collection can pose risks:
- Inaccurate, misleading or incomplete data can be used in employer decision-making that impacts our lives at work;
- Just like in the consumer arena, there are information security risks: the data collected about you could be breached. (It happens frequently: like library employees in Ohio who had their data breached in 2017 and 2019. Their personal information was used to create fraudulent bank accounts. Beyond just inconvenience, the dangers increase based on the sensitivity of the data and/or the vulnerability of the workers whose information gets leaked or stolen.);
- The data collected is often fed into management decisions that could impact you in the workplace from establishing schedules, work speeds, and requirements to reducing your autonomy. An increasing number of scholars are raising concerns about how data-based decision making can also lead to workplace discrimination.
Some states have passed legislation that addresses this growing trend. Below is more information about laws in California and New York that may help you learn more about how you may be monitored in the workplace if you live in either state.
In California, as amendment to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require certain employers to provide workers with notice of what data they are collecting on them; how they are using it; and whom they share it with, by January 1st, 2020. This notification applies to job applicants, too. Additionally, in March 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta clarified in an opinion that the law provides people “the right to know internally generated inferences about that consumer” and “must be disclosed to the consumer upon request” as the The Consumer Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (which amends and builds on the CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
While the law specifically protects people working in California, even if you work outside of that state, you might want to pay attention to the information being disclosed by employers. If your employer has revealed the kind of data they collect on employees in California, they might be collecting the same kind of data on you, too. The Washington Post reported: “Some companies are extending the disclosure privileges outside California, in part because of the difficulty of having a patchwork of policies.”
Employers in New York state will be required to give prior written notice upon hiring and to post a notice “in a conspicuous place which is readily available” to all employees subject to electronic monitoring effective May 7, 2022. The legislation applies to any employer in New York that “monitors or otherwise intercepts telephone conversations or transmissions, electronic mail or transmissions, or internet access or usage of or by an employee by any electronic device or system, including but not limited to the use of a computer, telephone, wire, radio, or electromagnetic, photoelectronic or photo-optical systems.”
Coworker.org is committed to helping ensure that employees are able to gather the information to which they’re entitled — and to better understand the often opaque employer policies and practices that impact their lives at work. Do you want to share information about data collection in your workplace? Or do you want to talk to a Coworker.org staff member about the issues in this post? FILL OUT THIS QUICK ONLINE FORM AND LET US KNOW!
Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our platform makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join, and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign for changes you want to see in your workplace here at Coworker.org, or contact us at [email protected] if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.
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