Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GPS Evidence-What is does differs from What you should do with it

Those who complain about GPS track evidence often confuse the issue of how accurate GPS evidence is and how powerful it is with the moral question of: What do you do with GPS evidence?

What to do with GPS evidence depends highly on the setting and the approach. For instance, compare two employers, the first secretly placing GPS on his fleet of equipment, then catching unsuspecting employees and firing them. The second employer speaks to his workers, announces his philosophy that he believes that most workers are doing their jobs, and its only fair to the workers who are working hard (to reward them) and to disclose the workers who aren't, and either take remedial measures or hire new, equally dedicated employees.

Who has the happier workforce? I would maintain that those workers who have prior knowledge they are being tracked will respond more positively than an "ambushed" workforce, a few of whom may be fired, but the remainder of who will be angry and insulted.
People are concerned about GPS tracking because they believe the information it discloses will be used in the worst possible ways- and they are sometimes justified. Just because an infraction is disclosed by GPS does not make it more culpable than if it were discovered by other means. Perhaps the "other means" are not as reliable as GPS, perhaps people confess when challenged by GPS evidence. This would mean we temper our punishments because we only half-believe other forms of evidence (hearsay, rumor, lie detectors) but when we really "get the goods" on someone with a GPS track, we "lower the boom" on them.

To me, one shouldn't let the quality of the evidence (or lack thereof) be involved in the punishment. If the evidence isn't good, there should be no punishment. But it shouldn't be "double punishment" if the evidence is irrefutable.

Is this reasonable? I would say it is not. While it makes an example of a bad employee, it also alienates all other employees. GPS tracking is so sophisticated, to many people it doesn't feel
"fair." Stealing employer's time and money, that might seem fair, but tracking someone without their knowing about it, well.

Right or wrong, I think that simply disciplining an employee caught with a GPS, and letting him and the rest of the employees know that there's a new way of checking on them will both make the erring employee into a model employee AND deflect ill-will towards GPS tracking. Once warned, any FURTHER violating employees can be dismissed to the fullest extent of the employee handbook.

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