New York’s top court said investigators went too far when they tracked a state worker’s car around the clock with a GPS device in a ruling that sets limits on off-hour surveillance of public employees suspected of misconduct.
The state Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a lower court ruling and dismissed four of 11 charges against fired labor department employee Michael Cunningham, who was suspected of falsifying time sheets.
A tracking device was left on Cunningham’s car around the clock for 30 days, including during a family vacation. The state argued that the GPS use was reasonable under the circumstances, noting that Cunningham knew he was under investigation. They said the only way to shut off the GPS outside of scheduled workdays was by physically removing it.
The court’s majority said that investigators did not make ample effort to avoid tracking Cunningham outside of business hours.