The BIPA requires private entities to inform persons in writing about the specific purposes and length of time for which their biometric information will be collected, used or stored. And no private entity may collect, use or store biometric information without first receiving a written release by the person whose biometric information is sought. The statute further requires a written schedule and guidelines for the retention and destruction of the biometric information to be made public. And the BIPA mandates consent and notice procedures that private entities must follow before disclosing someone’s biometric information to a third party.
Under the BIPA, Illinoisans have the right to sue private parties for violations of the act and to collect the greater of $1,000 or actual damages for each violation negligently committed, and the greater of $5,000 or actual damages for each violation recklessly or intentionally committed. Plaintiffs can also collect attorneys’ fees and costs under the BIPA.
The most common types of biometric technologies used by employers:
- Fingerprint ID & Hand-Print ID Technology
- Facial Feature Recognition Software
- Eye Recognition & Retina Scan Software
- Voice Analysis & Voice Print Technology
Since 2015, many class action lawsuits have popped up around the country. These suits include actions against Facebook, Shutterfly, and Google for alleged BIPA violations. Specifically, these particular cases are concerning the capture and storage of employee facial features.
The use of biometrics as a tool for achieving stronger security or improved customer experience is becoming increasingly common. Before your business integrates biometric technologies into its platforms and processes, it is important to understand the risks that they pose to customers’ personal privacy and the legal ramifications of using such technologies.
One of the more concerning BIPA lawsuits filed are on behalf of employees against employers based on the use of biometric information in the workplace. According to IllinoisPolicy.org, “Roundy’s, which operates the Mariano’s grocery store chain, InterContinental Hotels Group and Zayo Group were sued under the BIPA over the allegedly improper collection and storage of employee biometrics such as fingerprints and hand scans.”
Since July 2017, multiple class-action lawsuits have been filed in Illinois state court by current and former employees alleging their employers had violated the BIPA. A multitude of employers are being sued for alleged BIPA violations: Speedway, LLC; Greencore USA-CPG Partners, LLC; Peacock Foods; Superior Air-Ground Ambulance Service, Inc; Millard Group, LLC; Alliance Ground International, LLC; Pineapple Hospitality Company; Pineapple Restaurant Group, LLC; The Alise; ABRA Auto Body & Glass; and many more.
In nearly all of the employee BIPA cases, the employees have alleged their employers used fingerprint-operated machines or hand-print operated machines to clock or track employee work hours. In many instances, the employees allege that their employers “failed to inform employees about the companies’ policies for use, storage and ultimate destruction of the fingerprint data or obtain the employees’ written consent before collecting, using or storing the biometric information.”
Employees, consumers, and everyone else interacting with biometric technologies should be concerned about the privacy and security of their biometric information, as the General Assembly noted,
Biometrics … are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, is at heightened risk for identity theft, and is likely to withdraw from biometric-facilitated transactions.
Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane represents employees and consumers in class action lawsuits against businesses and corporations around the world that improperly utilize biometric data technologies. If your employer is collecting biometric data, you may have a case. Please contact the Employee Rights lawyers at Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane by filling out an online contact form or by calling 314-833-4825 for a FREE Consultation.