The Rise of Wearable and Smart Technology in the Workplace

ABA National Symposium on Technology in Labor and Employment Law

Kevin Haskins and other members of the Technology in the Practice and Workplace Committee authored an article that was presented at the ABA National Symposium on Technology in Labor and Employment Law in Washington, DC, on April 5-7, 2107.

The article, and the accompanying panel, was on the topic of The Rise of Wearable and Smart Technology in the Workplace. Kevin's section focused on Wearable Technology and Implications for the ADA, GINA, and Health Privacy.

Wearable technology excels at providing data on health. The pedometer of yesterday has been relegated to the vintage dustbin: today’s fitness trackers, like those from Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, and Apple, can track not only heart rate and calories burned, but sleep patterns, walking patterns, sweat, diet, and a whole host of other health attributes when paired with mobile apps for tracking mood, fertility, and medication, to name just few. Although many of these devices are designed for the consumer market, they are becoming increasingly common in the workplace, often as part of employee wellness programs. Companies are also finding wearable devices useful for enhancing worker safety: devices for monitoring a worker’s hydration, temperature, movement, and external hazards are already available, and research is continuing into how to coordinate these tools into a "technological guardian angel" for workers. Not surprisingly, the proliferation of wearable technology in the workplace raises a number of legal issues.16 In particular, the intersection of wearable technology and health implicates issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA"), and health privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA").

A pdf of the full article can be found here.