Many employers provide incentives to their employees to stay healthy and active and the benefits are clear—a healthier workforce is a more productive workforce, it reduces an employer’s healthcare liability, and boosts job satisfaction.  However, with the introduction of the wearable fitness technology revolution, employers need to be aware of the potential legal impact this technology can have in the workplace.  If adopted and enacted correctly, wearable fitness technology has the potential to create a more productive, happy workplace for all. 

Wearable technology, such as Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone, Apple Watch, and Google Glass, have the capability to collect, analyze, and share a vast amount of information about the wearer.  Specifically, fitness wearables collect such data as heart rate, number of footsteps, body mass index, calorie intake, hours of sleep, and even location data.  Such information at the hands of an employer can raise a host of privacy concerns for employers and employees.

The 24-Hour Employee

Many employees do not wish to share with an employer how many hours of sleep they get in a night or what they do outside of work.  This is particularly true if the information is then used in the context of a workplace performance evaluation.  To this end, employers must be cognizant not to use the data collected on employees in an unfair or discriminatory matter.  Moreover, while the program might be voluntary, there still exists social pressure on employees who aren’t comfortable with using the technology and a potential for discrimination.


If an employer’s wellness program incorporates wearable fitness technology, it must be sure to enact sufficient policies and procedures to make clear how the data will be collected and used.  Here are a few tips in drafting a policy:

  • Make sure the program is voluntary and the data anonymous among employees
  • Be clear as to how the company plans to use, or not use, the data collected (e.g., the data will not be used against them in an unfair or discriminatory manner)
  • Offer wellness alternatives

    Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other employment issues facing your company.