“Big Brother is watching you,” as George Orwell stated in his classic novel “1984.” Well, here we are in 2022 and we suppose Big Brother is indeed keeping an eye on employees, but recent laws now make it difficult to do so in secret.

Here at GroupOne Background Screening, we understand vehicle tracking devices provide valuable information that employees are performing their duties in an efficient manner. It’s good business.

It also ensures employees are where they are supposed to be during work hours. But there could be caveats. Based on a recently enacted New Jersey law, private sector employers must now warn employees before they utilize tracking devices in vehicles used by employees.

New Jersey employers are expected to provide written warnings to employees and to keep records to verify that written warnings were provided. For the time being, this law is unique to the Garden State, but there are similar laws around the U.S.

In Texas, it is legal for employers to track company-owned vehicles, as was found in the 2007 case of Tubbs v. Wynne. But if the employee owns the vehicle, the employer must get consent to use a tracking device. The law mirrors similar rulings in other states including Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.

The employer’s failure to disclose such information in New Jersey can now be costly. An employer who uses a tracking device in a vehicle used by an employee without providing written notice is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.

There is an exception if the tracking device is used solely to document employee expense reimbursement. Plus, the law recognizes federal law controls over the new statute, acknowledging that the new law does not supersede regulations governing interstate commerce including the use of electronic communication devices as mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The New Jersey law goes into effect on April 18, 2022. Employers subject to the law should ensure they provide proper written warnings, and they retain documentation of all warnings provided.

The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied.