On September 29, 2022, Governor Newsom signed AB 984 into law. The purpose of this assembly bill was to allow for the use of digital license plates for both commercial and privately-owned vehicles.
A digital license plate can be wired to the car or operated on five-year batteries. The plate shows up as normal if the registration is current, but if the registration is outdated, it switches to an “invalid” sign. It’s designed to be more convenient and reduce unnecessary paperwork.
Vehicle owners pay a registration and digital license fee that starts at about $20 per month or $216 for four years. The goal is to eliminate the usual process of making a payment, getting the mailed renewed registration paperwork, and putting stickers on the plate. Paper, stickers, and mailers are no longer needed, so it saves money.
It Gives Business Owners Precise Mileage Tracking
One of the reasons these digital plates are growing in popularity is that it makes it a lot easier for a business owner to pay registrations for all cars or trucks in a fleet at once. The other reason business owners want them is that the plates can have add-on services like geofencing, mileage tracking, and real-time location monitoring.
All of those features are fantastic for a business owner who needs exact information on mileage for company records. It also makes it easier to determine where drivers are and at what time a client can expect a delivery. If a car or truck is stolen, geofencing can stop the thief. It’s handy technology to have, especially if you’ve had company vehicles stolen before.
While business owners can track company cars, this can be concerning to an employee. There’s a bit of a Big Brother feel to knowing your boss is tracking your every move once you’re in the company car or truck and on the road. What are your rights in this situation?
A Company’s Management or HR Must Follow These Rules
Businesses can only use digital license plates to locate, track, monitor, or other forms of surveillance as is necessary to assess job performance. It’s typically tracking technology that’s best used for commercial vehicles and fleets.
AB 984 requires employers to be clear about how they will be using digital license plates. Business owners are welcome to use digital plates and monitor their employees, provided they hand out a notice that answers these questions.
- What activities are being monitored?
- When will the vehicle location technology be used? What hours, dates, and times?
- What departments or supervisors will be able to access the information provided by the digital plates?
- What data is being gathered? How long is it going to be stored on an employee’s record?
- Is it being used for decisions related to employment, such as denial of a promotion, disciplinary actions, or job terminations? What infractions will lead to these actions?
- Who is storing, analyzing, or accessing this data?
When the system is active, there must be a visual indicator showing it’s on. It cannot be turned on and used secretly.
You have to be informed what device or devices are being used to monitor you. As employers can listen in to conversations, it’s important to make sure you understand what they’re listening for.
Employers cannot monitor an employee’s real-time GPS and tracking data outside of work hours. Your shift is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it’s normal to take a company vehicle home. At 5 p.m., you’re welcome to disconnect the system. You have the right to turn a system off when you’re on personal time, and your company cannot penalize you for doing so.
Why Would Your Employer Monitor Its Drivers?
Rules require an employer to only be monitoring activities related to job performance. In many cases, this is going to restrict what an employer can track. Suppose you deliver goods to local businesses. Your employer could use GPS to give those businesses a heads-up when you’re getting close.
Your employer couldn’t use the GPS to time you and then penalize you for not driving fast enough or for being too fast. If you haven’t been warned what information is being collected or why it is, it’s a violation of your rights.
What Happens If Your Employer Violates the Rules?
You are concerned that your employer is violating your rights to privacy outside of work hours. Or, you weren’t notified of what information is being monitored. What happens next?
California’s Labor Commissioner can issue civil penalties of up to $250 per employee, per day. The fine goes up to $1,000 per employee, per day for additional violations.
You have the right to report your employer for violations. Not only can you get the financial compensation listed above, but there are also protections if your company retaliates. If you’re retaliated against, you are entitled to lost wages, benefits, and other financial benefits that you lose after being suspended, demoted, or terminated.
Consult your employee handbook to find out how you can report your boss or supervisor for violations of AB 984. It’s a new law, so you may need to talk to your HR department. If that doesn’t help, file a California Labor Law Violation complaint online.
This Is One of Several Employment and Discrimination Law Changes
It’s often hard to navigate your rights when laws are new. California has had several new laws this year. California’s minimum wage increased, so your pay should be at or above it, too. Companies must start reporting pay data to the state to ensure there is no wage discrimination occurring.
If there’s an emergency, you have the right to use your cell phone to check on others or get updates on the situation. You also have the right to leave your place of work if you feel whatever event is going on makes you unsafe. There are expansions to hate crime laws in workplaces, schools, public spaces, and places of worship.
Some of the other employment and discrimination laws that have changed include a mandatory of five days bereavement leave to any worker in a company with five employees or more. Employers cannot discriminate against a person based on their reproductive health decisions. Finally, if you happen to smoke marijuana, your employer cannot penalize you for testing positive on a drug test or for using marijuana outside of work.
You’re concerned that your employer is illegally spying on you, or you feel other discriminatory practices are happening at work. Don’t sit back and let it happen. You need to stand up for your rights.
Work with an employment law specialist and get answers that are pertinent to your situation. Shegerian Conniff is here to help you get fair and legal treatment in the workplace. Schedule a consultation with the employment lawyers at Shegerian Conniff and learn more about the steps you should take after being penalized unfairly.