Australian authorities upheld the firing of a man who allegedly used empty snack bags to block GPS tracking mandated by his employer.
The labor grievance commission in Australia ruled that Tom Colella, a 60-year-old electrician from Perth, rather resourcefully used the flexible food containers so he could leave work and play golf without anyone noticing, according to an official report. It’s believed he played a round of golf more than 140 times while he reported that he was working offsite for necessary repairs. NPR first reported the confirmation of his termination.
Colella would work full days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. But on Wednesday, he apparently only worked between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“This allowed Mr Colella to play golf every Wednesday,” Australia Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan wrote in the official report. “Mr Colella was the Captain of the Lakelands Golf Club. Mr Colella’s annual wage was approximately $111,000.00.”
But how did simple snack bags help Colella escape work duties and engage in recreational activities? Many such bags are comprised of, or lined with, a foil that combines aluminum and mylar plastic, according to Ars Technica, rendering them able to conduct electricity. Such an amalgamation of materials also provides an electromagnetic shield for certain mobile devices, meaning Colella could use them to block the capabilities of the work-enforced GPS tracker.
The GPS data, including precise location points, were not fully accessible or readable due to Colella’s allegedly purposeful obfuscation of the technology.
“I note that Mr Colella’s supervisors knew that he placed his PDA in the foil bag and that they should have known the effect that this action would have on the PDA device,” Riordan continues in his findings. “However, I can find no plausible explanation why Mr Colella would create a faraday cage around his PDA, except to obstruct the GPS collecting capacity of the device. Mr Colella appears to have been deliberately mischievous in acting in this manner.”
Colella protested the use of the GPS tracker since it was first introduced and implemented to the company, but higher ups apparently did not see this — nor the fact that they knew of his use of the bags — as suspicious.
“I cannot understand why Aroona condoned this practice but it clearly shows that Mr Colella did not want to be tracked,” said Riordan.
Colella now reportedly works as an Uber driver.
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