A proposed class action claims Shippers Warehouse of Illinois, Inc. has unlawfully required employees to scan their fingerprints for timekeeping purposes without issuing proper disclosures and obtaining written consent to do so.
According to the case, the defendant has violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a 2008 law that sets strict requirements for private entities that deal with residents’ biometric information, i.e., fingerprints, retina scans, voiceprints and scans of hand and face geometry.
Per the suit, the defendant’s apparent failure to handle employees’ biometric data in accordance with state law has exposed the workers to “serious and irreversible privacy risks” given a person’s biometrics cannot be changed or replaced if compromised.
“The State of Illinois takes the privacy of biometric data seriously,” the complaint reads. “There is no realistic way, absent surgery, to reassign someone’s biometric data.”
The plaintiff says he was required to scan a portion of his fingertip each time he clocked in and out of the Shippers Warehouse timekeeping system. The suit alleges the defendant, before collecting and using the plaintiff’s and other workers’ sensitive biometric data, failed to:
Inform the workers in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their biometric information would be collected, stored, disseminated and used;
Provide a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying the employees’ biometric data;
Receive a written release from the workers to collect, store, disseminate or otherwise use their biometric information; and
Obtain consent to disclose, redisclose or otherwise disseminate such information to a third party.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff has “continuously and repeatedly been exposed to the risks and harmful conditions” caused by the defendant’s alleged violations of the BIPA. The plaintiff says he would never have provided his biometric data to the company had he known it would be retained “for an indefinite period of time without his consent.”
The case looks to cover anyone enrolled in the Shippers Warehouse timekeeping system who used a biometric timeclock while working for the company in Illinois during the applicable statutory period.
Initially filed in Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court on January 15, the lawsuit was removed to the state’s Northern District Court on February 18, 2021.
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