A spy software found out that a female worker was not working as much as she said. Now she has to pay back her wages.
A Canadian accountant was ordered to pay her employer back for “time wasting” after the company’s tracking software found she was doing personal tasks while claiming to be working. The court ruling is one of the first cases in which such technology has been used to order an employee to pay back an employer for slacking off at work.
Karlee Besse, an employee of Vancouver Island accounting firm Reach CPA, initially claimed she was wrongly fired and her employer owed her $5,000 in back wages and severance pay. Besse’s employer said he fired her for committing time robbery and filed a countersuit to seek just over $2,600 in wages paid to her while she was allegedly not working, as well as part of an advance payment, which she had received prior to her employment.
The court decision comes as more companies install tracking software on workers’ computers to detect keystrokes and clicks and ensure they focus on work-related tasks while doing their job remotely. Some critics see this type of surveillance as espionage and violates the fundamental rights of employees.
In October last year, the National Labor Relations Board expressed concern about increasing electronic surveillance of workers by employers and potential violations of their privacy rights. NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo announced her intention to “to the maximum extent possible to protect employees from intrusive or abusive electronic surveillance and automated administrative practices that would tend to interfere with Section 7 rights.”
Section 7 protects workers’ ability to keep certain activities secret from their employer.
Captured on video
Besse said she initiated meetings with her manager in February 2022 to improve her productivity. Her employer then installed time tracking software called TimeCamp on her work laptop.
A month later, Reach said it found that Besse was behind schedule with her work. The company also noticed a discrepancy between the time tracking software recording their activity and the manual recording of their time. Between February 22 and March 25, the company said Besse had nearly 51 hours on her timesheets when she was not engaged in work-related tasks, according to the tracking software’s log.
Screen shots taken by TimeCamp ultimately proved she was involved in time theft, according to the Civil Resolution Tribunal, Canada’s first online court. The videos show what documents a user opens and how long they interact with them, while the software distinguishes between business and non-work activities, such as B. streaming videos. It also classified such activities as “personal” versus “occupational activity”.
Besse claimed she printed out the documents in question and was working on the printouts, but never disclosed this to Reach. Her employer said her printing activity was limited and she could not print the large volume of documents required for her job.
However, the court dismissed her lawsuit, ordering her to pay Reach $1,506.34 based on her salary.