A proposed class action claims Illinois Subway workers have been required to scan their fingerprints into the restaurant chain’s point-of-sale system without first receiving statutory disclosures about or expressly consenting to the collection of their sensitive biometric data.
The 13-page lawsuit alleges Doctor’s Associates, LLC, the American franchisor of Subway sandwich restaurants, and HP Inc., who provides the chain’s point-of-sale equipment and software, have violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a state law that governs the use of residents’ biometrics, such as fingerprints, by private entities.
Per the case, the defendants have required Subway workers to scan their fingerprints to unlock registers and clock in and out of Subway’s timekeeping system without satisfying the BIPA’s strict requirements. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges Subway workers were not told how their biometric data would be used and for how long it would be kept, nor did the defendants obtain their written consent to capture and use their fingerprint data, the case says.
According to the complaint, at the beginning of the timeframe covered in the lawsuit, i.e., June 7, 2016, the BIPA has already been in effect for business in Illinois for eight years.
“Throughout the class period, then, BIPA was well known, and its obligations clear,” the complaint scathes.
The lawsuit relays that Doctor’s Associates, as part of its franchise operations, requires Subway franchisees to use HP’s point-of-sale equipment and software in their restaurants. Per the case, the HP system includes a built-in biometric scanner that allows workers to scan their fingerprints in order to unlock registers or clock in and out for their shifts and breaks. When a worker first uses the system, HP’s equipment captures their fingerprint and builds a reference template that is then stored in a database with the individual’s identifying information, the suit relays. From that point on, every time the worker scans their fingerprint, the system compares the scan to the reference template and identifies the individual, according to the complaint.
The case alleges, however, that the defendants “did not explain the Biometric System to Subway workers,” as required under the BIPA, before scanning and storing their biometric information. Moreover, the lawsuit attests that workers were not told how long the data would be kept in the point-of-sale database and did not provide consent to the defendant’s collection, use and storage of their information.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone whose fingerprint reference template was stored on a biometric system at a Subway restaurant in Illinois on or after June 7, 2016, as well as anyone whose fingerprint reference template was stored on an HP point-of-sale system in Illinois on or after that date.
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