cell phone monitoring software can prevent a wrongful termination lawsuit.

The Lesson of Ellen Pao

Ellen Pao has been prominently discussed in the news lately. If you haven’t heard of her or are unclear about her story, Pao was the venture capital junior partner who filed a $16 Million lawsuit against her employers for gender discrimination.

While Pao’s case didn’t turn into a multi-million-dollar liability for her former firm, employees sue their companies all the time, and many win large financial judgments. Part of Pao’s case and one of the complaints in many of these lawsuits is for unlawful termination. And while unlawful termination can be a legitimate problem and one that can arise in disreputable and exploitive companies, most companies try to avoid terminating employees for a variety of ethical and legal reasons.

While the ethics of terminating an employee are complex and must be weighed on a case by case basis, the legality is fairly consistent. Most American employees are working on an “at will employment” basis, which means that they have little protection from termination. Their rights are few and their expectation to keep their jobs indefinitely are questionable. However, terminating an employee due to their social, racial, religious or sexual orientations or for being a member of any of a number of protected classes is never permissible.

In many cases, maybe including Pao’s a person who as been terminated for anything other than the clearest of cause reasons can file suit and have a reasonable chance of winning a large settlement from their employer. If the employee can prove to a jury that there was a 51% chance that their inclusion in a minority group has ANY bearing on the decision to terminate them, their employer can be liable and the damages can be considerable.

One means to combat this risk would be to be able to provide a clear and irrefutable “cause” when it becomes necessary to terminate an employee. If a company wants to implement this extra layer of protection, a Cell phone monitoring software package can help.

Modern cell phone monitoring software does three interesting things:

  • It logs all the internet sites employees visit and apps they use on their device
  • It logs the complete details and content of the emails they send and receive
  • It tracks the content and recipients of text messages sent and receive

All this information is included in a dedicated log, the employer can save and maintain indefinitely.

When combined with an effectively-written cell phone and mobile device policy, this capability to monitor an employee’s every communication and activity they take on a company mobile device can provide the backup an employer needs to defuse a potential lawsuit.

For example, a company hires a new employee, provides them with a company electronic device and monitors its activity with a cell phone tracking software package. The company’s policy clearly states what is permissible under this policy and that breaking it can lead to disciplinary actions up to and including termination. Over the next year, the employee repeatedly breaks this policy.

After a year, the company decides the employee isn’t meeting expectations and decides that termination is necessary. When terminating the employee, their repeated breaking of the mobile device policy is one of the contributing factors listed in their termination documentation. Whatever other reasons the company cites, like poor performance or absenteeism, the breaking of this policy, as evidenced by information tracked, logged, and permanently archived from their cell phone tracking software, proves that their termination was clearly justified based on the mobile device policy alone.

Even if this employee wants to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, their ability to do so and be successful is significantly impeded by this clear evidence of malfeasance.


Author: Michelle Whalen

I am a mother two who has had her ups and downs raising them. I want to share my words of wisdom with other struggling parents.