Swiss Automation, Inc. has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit over its alleged practice of collecting, using and storing workers’ biometric information without first providing proper disclosures or obtaining consent to do so.
The lawsuit out of Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court more specifically claims the precision machine and equipment manufacturer has failed to fulfill the requirements of a state privacy law before requiring workers to scan their fingerprints for timekeeping purposes.
Per the case, state lawmakers enacted the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) in 2008 in recognition of the risks associated with the collection and use of irreplaceable biometric identifiers, such as residents’ fingerprints. The law, the suit stresses, regulates private entities who collect, store and use biometric information. The defendant, however, has violated the BIPA by failing to properly inform workers both of its intent to collect their biometric information and for how long the data will be kept, much less obtain their consent to do so.
According to the lawsuit, Swiss Automation requires new hires to scan their fingerprints in order to enroll in the company’s employee database and, thereafter, whenever they clock in and out of the timekeeping system. The case alleges the defendant has failed to inform employees that their biometric data will be disclosed to at least one third-party payroll vendor “and likely others.” Moreover, the suit says workers were not informed of the purpose for which their biometric information would be collected and for how long it would be used, and the defendant never obtained a written release from the employees to collect their information, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that Swiss Automation further violated the BIPA by failing to publish a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for when workers’ biometric data would be destroyed.
“Defendant does not tell Plaintiff and others similarly situated what might happen to their biometric data if and when Defendant merges with another company, or worse, if and when Defendant’s business folds, or when the other third parties that have received employees’ biometric data businesses fold,” the complaint alleges.
Swiss Automation’s alleged violations of the BIPA “raise a material risk” that employees’ biometric data will be unlawfully accessed by third parties, the lawsuit claims.
The case looks to cover anyone in Illinois who had their fingerprints or other biometric information and/or identifiers collected, captured, received or otherwise obtained, maintained, stored or disseminated by the defendant within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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