My name is Dixie Jackson and I’m the Grievance/Legal Specialist for OPEA. I’ve been representing & advocating for state employees for decades and recently I’ve seen an increase in adverse actions from different monitoring devices. Some of those I had represented had no idea they were even being monitored. So I wanted to do an employee advocacy column to talk about different ways Oklahoma state employees are monitored while in the office, while on the clock outside of the office, and even in their free time.
At your state office/facility
Co-workers, clients & cameras are the primary ways state employees are monitored at work. These are the good old fashion forms of accountability and shouldn’t surprise anyone. If you are a good state employee these are your best friend. Eyewitnesses & camera footage are there to protect you. Nothing exciting here so I’m moving on.
While you are on the clock outside of the office
The most prevalent & well-known way state employees are monitored is by GPS systems installed in state vehicles. GPS devices are installed in every state vehicle bought over the last decade. Now some older state vehicles don’t have GPS, but I recommend everyone treat every state vehicle like it has the newest GPS tracking device installed. I have tons of stories of state employees seeking representation due to the data gathered by GPS.
Modern GPS devices in state vehicles know a lot more about the vehicle than just the location. They track speed, whether or not your seatbelt is buckled, location, date & time, and other data pulled from the car’s computer. Recently a bunch of employees received adverse actions due to speeding in state vehicles, and that is what helped me decide to write this article. DO NOT SPEED! Follow all traffic laws and buckle up! Simple as that right, but recently I ran into an interesting case of an employee whose GPS readout said they were driving between 90-120MPH for a period of 2 hours. Now went I first got this read out I was sure this employee needed to prepare for a termination hearing. However, once I started to look into the situation it started to smell fishy. The employee who was driving had nearly 10 years of service to the state. So they would know about the GPS. Then as someone who often makes trips to Dallas to visit my grandbabies, I know that if you’re speeding you dont drive at those speeds for 2 hours straight. Especially in a state vehicle, at least not without shaking the wheels off. After I recruited other staff members we started looking at the GPS logs and started doing some calculus “If a state employee is traveling at this speed then what time would they arrive at this location” ! After doing the math we determined that it was impossible that the employee was driving at those speeds and arrived at their location at the time the GPS recorded. We sent out data to the agency and upon further investigation, it was found that the GPS wiring was faulty.
So even though the GPS was faulty the other data gathered by it protected that state employee’s job. If you ever receive adverse actions from these monitors call OPEA because without us that employee would have been terminated due to a faulty GPS.
State-issued cell phones can also track you! I have yet to run into issues with state phones, but if you’re on call just know they can see exactly where that phone is at. The other big warning for state phones is to not use them for anything other than state business. Dont install Bejeweled on the phone, stream Netflix, or call your kids. Just use the phone for its intended purpose.
Do state agency monitor you while you’re off the clock?
The short answer is yes, but let us look into how.
Do you drive a state vehicle home or while traveling for work, but you’re not on the clock? If you do your GPS is still active. So everything we covered before still applies, but one thing members tend to forget is that that vehicle represents your agency, and the general public does not know if you’re on the clock or not. I’ve represented members who parked a state vehicle near a bar but went into the restaurant nearby. Someone reported the vehicle as being at the bar, the GPS said they were at the bar, but they were at the restaurant. Other examples are employees geting alcohol before heading to their hotel while traveling for work.
Your social media is also monitored by state agencies. Now they aren’t stalking every employee account, but if they are asked to take a look at what is on it they will. I have represented many employees who were disciplined for conduct unbecoming of a state employee for talking about their work or complaining about their coworkers on social media. The simple answer is dont vent your frustrations on social media. It won’t fix anything, and it often makes it worst. Call OPEA and we can help you navigate those frustrating experiences and actually find a solution to the problem.
If you have any questions or I missed something give us a call at 405-524-6764 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org