Company Implants Workers with Microchips

We are probably aware of how pet owners can get a microchip implanted in their dogs or cats that can be scanned to determine ownership information in case the animal is lost and not wearing a collar with identification tags.  Some of us can recall older science fiction movies, such as “Demolition Man,” where everyone had a chip implanted in his or her hand that would be used to track the person and as a method of payments.

chipIt seems the future is here, according to a recent news article form the Los Angeles Times.  This is fitting, because most of those futuristic movies of the 80s and 90s take place in a year that has already passed.  According to this recent article, one employer is giving employees the option of having a microchip implanted in the space between the thumb and index finger. The chip is implanted in a large gauge syringe that tags the patient, just as is done with dogs and cats by veterinarians on a regular basis.  Once implanted, the employee can wave his or her hand in front of door readers in place of a key fob or card key.  The door will read the NFC chip and relay information that confirms the employee’s identification and access level and open the door when appropriate.  The chip is considered passive technology.  This means it can be read by NFC devices, but it is not capable of reading any information or gathering information itself.

In addition to opening doors, the employees can use the chips to clock in and out of work and also to purchase things from vending machines at work.  The company has about 2,000 employees, and around 150 have already been chipped.  At this time the program is obviously optional.  Many worry about privacy concerns while others enjoy the convenience.   As for privacy concerns, there is a fear that employers will be able to track the movements of employees, know if they are being honest with clocking in, and even track purchasing habits, which they could potentially sell to advertisers. There is also a fear that these devices can read health information and biological responses in the patients, though it is not known if the current iteration of these devices has that capability.

As our Orange Country employment lawyers can explain, there are certain privacy laws on the books, and your employer cannot share your information with anyone they see fit.  While there is probably a waiver of some type when getting this device implanted, waivers are not always enforced in court.  This may often depend on whether the waiver is void under state law or against public policy.  There is also a question as to a company’s purpose for having such a device implanted. If it is really being used to make the employees’ lives easier, that is one thing, but if is being used mainly to violate the employees’ rights to privacy, that may be actionable.   Much of this can be found out during the discovery process.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

Companies start implanting microchips into workers’ bodies, April 3, 2017, By Associated Press, LA Times

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