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Playing hooky without getting caught -- as immortalized in the cat-and-mouse skirmish between Ferris Bueller and Principal Rooney in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" -- used to be an adolescent rite of passage. Now it has given rise to a thriving industry, with stern legal precedent to back it up.
In 2008, Raybestos Products, a car parts manufacturer in Crawfordsville, Ind., hired an off-duty police officer to track an employee suspected of abusing her paid medical leave. When the employee, Diana Vail, was fired after the cop produced substantial evidence that she was exploiting her benefits, she sued Raybestos. In what became the landmark case for corporate snooping, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her lawsuit.
A panel of judges declared that while surveillance "may not be preferred employer behavior," it wasn't unlawful. According to Susan W. Kline, a partner at the Baker & Daniels law firm in Indianapolis, the case "encouraged [companies] to consider hiring their own private detectives." It also set a precedent, she says, that "reasonable suspicion" is sufficient justification for employer spying.
I can't believe companies would actually do this to their employees. Is the bottom line really that important? You would think letting your workers a few days off per year would help morale but maybe not.