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New York court upholds GPS tracking in worker misconduct probe

ALBANY, New York (Reuters) - The New York State Department of Labor was within its rights when it used a GPS device to track an employee, even after work hours and while he was on a family vacation, an appellate court has ruled.

In a 3-2 decision on Wednesday, the court dismissed claims by Michael Cunningham, a former Labor Department employee who was fired for misconduct, that the use of the global positioning system device had constituted illegal search and seizure.

The department fired Cunningham, who was first hired in 1980, last year, relying on data from a GPS device placed in his personal car to show he had submitted false expense sheets and other travel records.

Cunningham sued, saying the data should have been suppressed at his termination hearing. He demanded a new hearing, but not reinstatement.

The court ruled that the use of the GPS data was constitutional because the device, which was operational at all times including after work hours, was only monitored by an investigator during work hours.

Cunningham's attorney, Corey Stoughton of the New York Civil Liberties Union, could not immediately be reached. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

(Reporting by Dan Wiessner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston)