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Preventing Employees from Being Microchipped

An Indiana lawmaker is proposing a ban on forced microchipping by employers

Brian Young's picture
Jan 21, 2020

Since 2011 when Republicans took control of the Indiana legislature, very little pro-worker legislation has come from the statehouse. That might change on Tuesday as the state looks to pass an important bill limiting the rights of an employer to track their employees.

The bill, House Bill 1143, would be the first statewide ban on employers requiring their workers or a job candidate to have an identification or tracking device implanted in their body. While no employer is yet requiring this practice, some in Wisconsin and Sweden have begun to voluntarily ask their employees to beta test the effectiveness of the implants.

The bill was written by state Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Brazil who said that he is concerned that these microchips could be a new trend. The chips, which emit an RFDI signal are the size of a grain of rice. They are usually implanted between the thumb and forefinger. With just a wave of the hand, they can be used to unlock doors, make vending machine purchases and log into computers.

While it might seem far fetched that an employer would want to microchip their workers like a dog, a Swedish chip maker has reported being in talks to sell to several legal and financial firms, including one with hundreds of thousands of employees.  In 2017, Three Square Market in Wisconsin had 80 of its employees chipped.

While it is still not a widespread practice, tech types are pushing it as the wave of the future. Of course, for workers, there are several concerns, including the fact that a boss can now track chipped workers not only on the job but also at home. Imagine being a female employee who is being harassed by their boss on the job. Now that boss would have the ability to find her at any time of day or night. It is also super easy to hack anything with an RFID signal, putting important employee personnel data at risk.

"When I came up with this three years ago, I promise you I wasn't wearing my aluminum foil hat — not that I have one — but I wasn't wearing one either," Morrison said. "It is actually a real thing that's happening. It's becoming more and more pervasive throughout the world. If somebody wants to do that — I wouldn't want to — but that's fine on them, I guess. "However, I don't think an employer should be able to mandate an employee does that."

Morrison also noted that since Indiana is an at-will state, having passed Right to Work in 2012, a prospective employee could not be hired or a current employee could be fired for not submitting to being microchipped.

The bill passed through the committee with a unanimous vote and is now being debated by the full House.

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