On Aug. 1, 2017 a Wisconsin tech firm introduced a microchip that can be implanted in the hand of its employees. This single chip can do things like allow access to buildings and networks, use copiers, open doors, and possibly purchase items from the company's cafeteria. While their policy on this microchip was voluntary (read: employees who opted out were not retaliated against), more than FIFTY (50) opted to get said microchip implanted under their skin. Apparently the microchip is smaller than a grain of rice. BUT STILL!
Employer Security via RFID.
For employers working in large spaces and with sensitive data and technology, the microchip concept adds a level of security unseen until now. The microchips being used for employment purposes are essentially mini GPS's also called radio frequency identification ("RFID"). It allows employers to monitor and regulate access, as well as monitor and regulate time. For example, these RFID devices can alert employers if a certain someone is spending an excessive amount of time "getting coffee." These devices can also collect data on access to certain buildings, units, labs, servers, etc.
Attorneys Caution RFID use (duh).
Anytime employers ask about sticking a GPS device in an employee's hand, I shutter to think of all the ways this scenario can go wrong. Who pays the medical bills when one employee's implant causes an infection? What happens to data collected while the employee is not working for the employer (e.g. evenings and nights)? How many exceptions will need to be made for ADA/Title VII accommodations and how will this even work? What happens when that rice grain goes rogue and your workforce turns into robots? All these questions and so little answers cause all us attorneys to shrug and say "it depends."
What Happens Next?
Only a few U.S. companies are experimenting with RFIDs on a voluntary basis. Right now the cost behind these microchips will deter most employers from even considering the concept but I would no longer consider microchipping employees a thing of the future. In other words, we'll probably be hearing more on this topic in the next decade. In the meantime, I think I'll stick with microchipping my cat.