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RFID Gathers Evidence for a Lawsuit

In a dispute involving fair-labor laws, an RFID system involving EPC Gen 2 tags and readers was temporarily set up within a factory to document how long workers remained on-site.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 15, 2011Plaintiffs in an employee-based lawsuit against a Midwestern factory used RFID technology to gather data regarding work practices that was then reviewed by an expert witness. The suit charges that workers are not being properly paid for the time they spend donning protective equipment. The case has yet to go to trial.

Last month, the RFID solution was installed at the unnamed factory. The system was operated over the course of 72 hours, and was then removed. During that time, it gathered information about the arrivals and departures of approximately 300 workers over the course of four shifts, comparing each employee's time on-site against his or her time clocked in. Queralt provided its iQ3 solution for the deployment, consisting of tags, readers and software that tracks the times of each worker's arrivals and departures at the factory gate, as well as at time clocks. Queralt then analyzed the results, and presented the material to the expert witness for use in court.

Dan Romo, Queralt's senior VP of sales
The legal action focused on what plaintiffs allege is the company's breech of fair-labor laws, based on the amount of time on-site that employees spent putting on protective equipment, outside of the time they were officially on the clock. An expert witness for the plaintiffs needed a way to document when workers actually arrived at and departed from the factory, as well as when they clocked in and out. The question was, were they performing work-related tasks while clocked out? Such studies are typically conducted using a variety of tools, such as cameras, stopwatches and often a fleet of individuals watching employees' comings and goings. In this case, Queralt provided EPC Gen 2 RFID tags for its staff, with readers installed at the factory gate—which serves as both an entrance and an exit—and at time clocks. The plaintiffs' attorneys hired Queralt to acquire data indicating the amount of unpaid time that employees spend on-site at the beginning and end of each shift.

Queralt conducted the study in May at the unnamed factory. Queralt's iQ3 solution is designed to be set up temporarily, and to be made operational in a short period of time. Once the readers are installed, they require only an Internet connection, or a USB connection to a laptop with iQ3 software loaded on it. In the case of this factory project, however, Queralt had the additional challenge of providing the solution without any foreknowledge of details about the site, such as the materials of which the building was constructed, where reader antennas could be mounted, or where electrical outlets might be located. The company shipped seven Impinj RFID readers to the site, along with Impinj reader antennas. Dan Romo, Queralt's senior VP of sales, and John Marchese, the firm's CTO, then set up the system in the presence of the assigned expert witness and several attorneys. The antennas and interrogators were mounted on walls within the vicinity of the time clocks at which employees punched in, as well as at the front gate. Each reader was cabled to a laptop computer's USB port, to store and analyze that information.

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