Woman Fired After Boss Uses Keystroke Technology To Track Her Working From Home

Susie Cheikho, the woman who was fired after her boss used keystroke technology to track her working from home, has spoken out...
Credit: Suzie Cheikho via Facebook & Alamy

A woman was fired from her job after her boss used keystroke technology to test whether she was working her assigned hours. 

For many of us, working from home makes us happier, healthier, and more productive. While for others, it can be an excuse to slack off.

In an attempt to find out whether one employee was working her designated hours, a company decided to use keystroke technology.

This led to the firing of Suzie Cheikho, who reportedly is concerned it will prevent her from finding a job in the future.

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Keystroke technology is the ultimate enemy of anyone who wishes to avoid work while working from home.

It’s essentially the ‘act of tracking and recording every keystroke entry made on a computer’, as per Kaspersky.

The site goes on to explain: “These are used to quietly monitor your computer activity while you use your devices as normal. Keyloggers are used for legitimate purposes like feedback for software development but can be misused by criminals to steal your data.”

Person typing.
Keystroke technology is the ‘act of tracking and recording every keystroke entry made on a computer’. Credit: Alamy

Since the Covid pandemic, many offices now offer a work-from-home option. This can be a hybrid setup or a totally remote workplace.

WFH means a boss has to have a fairly high amount of trust in their employee – as it can be difficult to track what they’re doing from home.

However, this wasn’t the case for Cheiko, who was let go from her job at Insurance Australia Group (IAG) in February 2023 after 18 years at the company.

The company where she worked used keystroke technology to monitor whether employees were working their designated hours.

Cheikho was tasked with crafting insurance documents, ensuring adherence to regulatory deadlines, and overseeing ‘work from home compliance’, alongside other important responsibilities, as per the commission’s disclosed report.

Suzie Cheikho
Suzie Cheikho was fired from a company where she worked for 18 years. Credit: @mz_louisvuitton/Instagram

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) investigation disclosed that Cheikho was dismissed on February 20 due to missed deadlines and meetings, prolonged absences and unavailability, and failure to fulfil a task resulting in a fine imposed by the industry regulator on IAG.

A month later, Cheikho claimed to the FWC that her employer had orchestrated her removal from the company and singled her out because of her mental health challenges.

Cheikho was issued a formal warning regarding her output in November 2022 and was subsequently placed on a performance improvement plan.

Her productivity was monitored via keystroke technology, which looked at work activity on 49 days between October and December 2022.

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The review is believed to have found that she started late on 47 days, while she apparently also finished early on 29 of the days she was monitored.

Reportedly, it found that on four days, Cheikho did no work.

On average, she is believed to have been pressing her keyboard 54 times an hour during working hours.

Cheikho said she did ‘not believe for a minute’ the data was true but showed no evidence that she’d been online and working when the report showed she hadn’t.

Suzie Cheikho
Suzie Cheikho is concerned it will prevent her from finding work in the future. Credit: Suzie Cheikho via LinkedIn

“Sometimes the workload is a bit slow, but I have never not worked,” she told her managers, per the FWC findings.

“I mean, I may go to the shops from time to time, but that is not for the entire day. I need to take some time to consider this and I will put forward a response.”

In a written follow-up, Cheiko added: “I have tried to go through emails and messages to see if I can explain it.

“I have been going through a lot of personal issues which has caused a decline to my mental health and unfortunately I believe it has affected my performance and my work.”

She also revealed she’d been struggling with an injury, and claimed she would send a Teams message asking to ‘make the time up afterwards’ for her medical appointments.

Cheiko attempted to bring a claim of unfair dismissal against IAG, but that was rejected after it was confirmed the firm had a ‘valid reason of misconduct’.

Suzie Cheikho
Suzie Cheikho attempted to bring a claim of unfair dismissal against IAG, but it was rejected. Credit: @mz_louisvuitton/Instagram

Cheikho has since spoken to the MailOnline about her story, saying: “It’s embarrassing that this story has gone viral – nobody is going to hire me.

“In 18 years of work there, I only ever got one warning.”

Even though keystroke technology sounds scary, it’s actually legal.

The head of the National Workrights Institute, Lewis Maltby, tells Mashable: “Employees have virtually no right to privacy on employer-provided computers.

“Even highly personal communications that would be protected if they took place over the telephone are not protected if an employer computer is involved.”

Person typing.
While keystroke technology may sound scary, it’s legal. Credit: Alamy

According to EFF Cybersecurity Director Eva Galperin, a combined digital and physical inspection technique is required to check if you’re the subject of a keystroke logger.

“You can use most antivirus products to detect software keyloggers, but there are also keyloggers that plug right into the keyboard,” the expert explains.

“For those, it’s best to just familiarise yourself with what the products look like so that you recognise them.”

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.