Electronic Monitoring Case: Connecticut

A very interesting case was decided on January 5, 2010 involving the Bridgeport, Connecticut Fire Department. In May of 2007, the city acquired new vehicles for city fire inspectors, and installed GPS devices in order to electronically monitor the movement and location of the vehicles while they were in use. The city monitored the inspectors’ activities using the GPS devices and brought disciplinary actions against inspectors Frank Gerardi and Stephen Vitka.

Gerardi and Vitka filed suit against the city alleging it had violated Connecticut General Statutes § 31-48d which prohibits employers from electronically monitoring employees without prior notice to the employee. They sought temporary and permanent injunctive relief and damages.

The Connecticut law is somewhat unusual in that it requires an employer who intends to utilize electronic monitoring in the workplace, to provide employees with notice. The law includes a requirement that notices be placed conspicuously in the workplace explaining the types of monitoring that are taking place.

The Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that despite the fact that the city may indeed have violated the electronic monitoring law, the law did not create a private cause of action that Gerardi and Vitka could sue under. Gerardi and Vitka’s case was, accordingly, dismissed.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer’s Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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