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GPS Tracking; Legal?

gps

Recently a judge in New Jersey ruled that use of a GPS device to track a cheating spouse is not an invasion of privacy.  The premise for the ruling is that both parties shared the family vehicle and therefore, either could place the monitoring device on said vehicle. In an attempt to clarify the states’ position on GPS tracking, we held an informal study amongst our peers and researched existing legislation (including that also connected to wiretapping and privacy laws).

As best we can ascertain, there appears to be no definitive list of  state by state rulings on GPS devices and their placement on personal vehicles. Many states require the consent of the vehicle’s registered owner. Although the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that law enforcement agencies’ use of a GPS monitoring device constitutes an “illegal search” and that the potential surveillance subject is therefore protected against this type of monitoring under the Fourth Amendment, that clarity of use as of GPS tracking has not yet been legally defined for private sector use.

According to our knowledgeable friends at Brick House Security (NYC), it is  generally considered to be fair and legal usage of a GPS tracking device if:

  • You or your company own the vehicle.
  • You or your company do not own the vehicle, but you place the GPS device on the outside of the car — (e.g., under the rear bumper).
  • The vehicle is visible to the public — (e.g., in a parking lot or on a public street).
  • You could obtain the same information by physically trailing the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is not situated on someone else’s private property.

It’s generally illegal to use a GPS tracking device if:

  • You need to break into the vehicle to situate the device.
  • You need to physically hardwire the device inside the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is in a place where its owner has a reasonable expectation of privacy — in a private garage.

My suggestion for those wishing to engage in GPS surveillance of a subject, is to contact local police in the desired area of surveillance and ask within.

For additional GPS tracking related information, please read one of our  earlier articles on the subject, below linked.

Our Operatives: Street smart: info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Honoring Our Presidents, Fun Facts and Trivia Quiz.

president's day

 

An appropriate, interesting and thankfully, brief, written piece for today: The Five Strangest US Presidential Elections.  (In one election, the President received 100% of the electoral vote and in another, the opponent was a corpse.)

Also, a very unique presidential trivia quiz, What did they do before becoming presidents. (Not as easy as one might think.) : Before They Were Presidents.

As we commemorate our Presidents today, let’s be very careful in this record-setting brutal cold and winter weather.

(We’ll return to our regular weekly post on Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015.)

BNI Operative; Street smart, info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

When Is It “A Bit” of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace??

Breaking: Verdict In Alexandra Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the verdict in Marchuk v. Faruqi, the high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Alexandra Marchuk against her former firm and one of its most prominent partners, Juan Monteverde. Trial started on January 12. The jury got the case on Tuesday and deliberated for about eight hours over three days.

And now the jury has spoken. Here’s a report from Law360 (sub. req.):

A New York federal jury on Thursday found Faruqi & Faruqi LLP and partner Juan Monteverde partially liable for creating a hostile work environment in a closely watched sexual assault case that has cast a harsh spotlight on the securities boutique.

An eight-member jury found Faruqi and Monteverde liable on former associate Alexandra Marchuk’s New York City law hostile work environment claims and partially granted her request for damages. She sought $2 million in damages. She was awarded $90,000 plus punitive damages to be determined later.

The economic damages — back pay, front pay, compensatory damages — are probably disappointing for Marchuk. But who knows what the punitive-damages award might bring?

On the bright side for the defendants, Monteverde and Faruqi were cleared of federal and state law claims of creating a hostile work environment. Recall also that Judge Alvin Hellerstein narrowed the case by dismissing various other claims, including Marchuk’s defamation and retaliation claims.

As of now, until we get the punitives, the outcome can’t be called as a huge win (or loss) for either side. This makes some sense given that both sides had their strengths and weaknesses at trial. But if the punitives turn out to be modest, then chalk this up as a defense victory — big headlines, small damages.

UPDATE (4:35 p.m.): Per Max Stendahl of Law360, who has been doing a great job covering the trial, the jury has reached a verdict on punitive damages. We’ll update as soon as it’s announced.

UPDATE (4:45 p.m.): From Max Stendahl: “Jury awards $45,000 against partner Juan Monteverde, $5,000 against Faruqi [as a firm].”

UPDATE (4:55 p.m.): Said one observer to me just now, “So all of that, and she ends up with $140k?

****************
And now, the EEOC regs:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Questions and Answers on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) prohibits harassment of an employee based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits harassment of employees who are 40 or older on the basis of age, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits harassment based on disability, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits harassment of an employee based on genetic information. All of the anti-discrimination statutes enforced by the EEOC prohibit retaliation for complaining of discrimination or participating in complaint proceedings.
The Supreme Court issued two major decisions in June of 1998 that explained when employers will be held legally responsible for unlawful harassment by supervisors. The EEOC‘s Guidance on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors examines those decisions and provides practical guidance regarding the duty of employers to prevent and correct harassment and the duty of employees to avoid harassment by using their employers’ complaint procedures.

1. When does harassment violate federal law?

  • Harassment violates federal law if it involves discriminatory treatment based on race, color, sex (with or without sexual conduct), religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or because the employee opposed job discrimination or participated in an investigation or complaint proceeding under the EEO statutes. Federal law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. The conduct must be sufficiently frequent or severe to create a hostile work environment or result in a “tangible employment action,” such as hiring, firing, promotion, or demotion.

2. Does the guidance apply only to sexual harassment?

  • No, it applies to all types of unlawful harassment.

3. When is an employer legally responsible for harassment by a supervisor?

  • An employer is always responsible for harassment by a supervisor that culminated in a tangible employment action. If the harassment did not lead to a tangible employment action, the employer is liable unless it proves that: 1) it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassment; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to complain to management or to avoid harm otherwise

4. Who qualifies as a “supervisor” for purposes of employer liability?

  • An individual qualifies as an employee’s “supervisor” if the individual has the authority to recommend tangible employment decisions affecting the employee or if the individual has the authority to direct the employee’s daily work activities.

5. What is a “tangible employment action”?

  • A “tangible employment action” means a significant change in employment status. Examples include hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, undesirable reassignment, a decision causing a significant change in benefits, compensation decisions, and work assignment.

6. How might harassment culminate in a tangible employment action?

  • This might occur if a supervisor fires or demotes a subordinate because she rejects his sexual demands, or promotes her because she submits to his sexual demands.

Our opinion? (Not that anyone asked but if that’s the criteria, the Bulletin would be a weekly blank page.) Defense win.  Let’s face it – $140,000 for all of the effort that undoubtedly went into the case to arrive at this trial level?  No clear “message” was sent to employers in similar situations other than “Gentlemen, mind your manners”.  

I find it interesting that the partners fined were found “partially guilty” of creating a hostile work environment.   Were there other supervisors who were more culpable for allowing a sexually harassing environment to exist but had not been named? <tongue boring a hole through cheek> We’ll await the actual trial transcripts and report back.

For employers/supervisors:  Keep it in your pants/under your skirt and your hands (among other body parts) to yourself and mind your words.  Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?  Yes, a charged environment is highly competitive and there can be raging egos and through-the-roof biochemistry surges but check your bank account first and be mindful of the firm’s reputation.

BNI Operatives:  Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2014

sue

We wanted to make sure all of the results were in and the winners (?) for…

The Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2014 are:

  1. Plaintiff in Pending Disability Lawsuit Topples Huge, Historic Boulder  – A not-too-swift back injury claimant was videotaped pushing a boulder at a park. (Now had the unsecured boulder in a public park rolled over on top of him, he might have a lawsuit again.)
  2. Little League Coach Sues Player Over Celebratory Helmet Toss – A Little Leaguer tosses his helmet in the air in a celebratory move and is being sued by his coach for an alleged torn Achilles heel. (To boot, on a Fox News interview – he stated that his lawyer was suing for $20,000, when in actuality the suit is for $500,000.)
  3. NY Man Sues for More Money Than Exists on Planet Earth – A Manhattan man has sued the city, NYC Transit, Au Bon Pain Store, two local hospitals, Kmart” and a dog owner – for two undecillion dollars. FTR, an undecliion dollars is a 2 followed by 36 zeros. (No, he is not a GAO employee.)
  4. Rescuers Sued By Man They Pulled From Floodwaters –  A man trapped in his car in flood waters is suing his rescuers for $500,000 for not saving him quickly enough.  (You know, Mr., Ortiz, they did have an option to ignore you altogether…)
  5. CA Town Victimized by Plaintiffs’ Attorney Who Has Filed More Than 3,000 Lawsuits – Scott Johnson, the Carmichael lawyer behind the Manteca, CA ADA (American with Disabilities Act) lawsuits, has filed more than 3,000 such lawsuits.  (I doubt there are 3,000 people in Manteca, CA – and I hardly believe they are all disabled.)
  6. NYC Woman Spooked by “Dexter” Ad Sues MTA, Showtime for Subway Fall – A NYC woman is suing because a poster of TV’s “Dexter” – to clarify – a fictional tv series character – startled and menaced her, causing her to trip and fall.  (Imagine if she met a real-time murderer. Now there her estate would have a lawsuit!)
  7. Baseball Fan Caught Sleeping on Camera, Sues ESPN for $10 million – He was filmed at a public sporting event sleeping away. (The snore captured ’round the world. The Jumbo screen is apparently the Dumbo screen.)
  8. Minimum Wage for Court-Ordered Community Service? – Two criminals ordered to perform community service (via an ACD – Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) rather than jail time believe they should be paid for their “work”.  (I suggest hard labor next time.)
  9. Jimmy John’s Lawsuit “Sprouts” Hefty Payday for Lawyers – Vouchers for Victims – California woman sues Jimmy John’s for not having alfalfa sprouts in their sandwiches as advertised.  (How many times did she order the same sandwich and not open up her mouth and ask for them??)
  10. Woman Sues Disney for $250M, Claims “Frozen” Stolen From Her Life’s Story – A woman is suing Disney for $250m for Frozen a story she alleges is taken from her novel, Yearnings of the Heart, the resemblance being a cold setting.  (That Frozen has more in common with Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen, doesn’t interest her.)

If anyone were going to sue in 2015, it should be for that bad call at the end of the SeaHawks/Patriots game yesterday.

BNI Operatives: Street smart, info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

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