More businesses hit with class action suits under Illinois biometrics privacy law

September 12, 2017 - 

Gas station convenience store chain The Speedway and the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants have been hit with class action lawsuits alleging the businesses violated Illinois’ biometrics privacy law, according to a report by Cook County Record.

Last week, lawyers with the Chicago legal firm Stephan Zouras LLP filed two lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of plaintiffs alleging the companies should be required to compensate for storing biometrics data from either their employees or their customers.

In the lawsuit against Lettuce Entertain You, plaintiff Regina Morris alleges the company’s Wow Bao chain illegal collects and stores facial scans of customers who use their self-order kiosks to order food and drinks.

The lawsuit states that Wow Bao uses the data collected from the kiosks “as a means of authentication for future food and beverage purchases”, but fails to notify customers of “the extent of the purposes for which it collects their sensitive biometric data or to whom the data is disclosed, if at all.”

The suit also alleges that Lettuce did not obtain collect written consent from their customers, nor did it explain in writing how it will store the face scan and when it will delete the data from their systems — all of which allegedly violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

In her lawsuit, Morris said she allowed her facial biometrics to be scanned and stored at a Wow Bao kiosk at the chain’s restaurant on North Michigan Avenue, and did not receive the information she asserts was required under the Illinois law.

In the lawsuit against Speedway, plaintiff and former employee Christopher Howe alleged the chain of improperly collecting and storing his fingerprints and those of all of its co-workers in Illinois.

The lawsuit states that Speedway employees were required to scan their fingerprints to clock in and out of their work shifts.

The plaintiff alleges that Speedway did not inform him and other employees of its policies for collecting, storing and managing the fingerprints, including how long the fingerprints would be stored in the company’s database following an employee’s departure of the company.

Howe also said he never received a written consent authorizing Speedway to collect and store his fingerprints, which is required by Illinois law.

The lawsuit follows similar lawsuits recently brought forward by other law firms against several Illinois companies, including Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc. and the Intercontinental Hotels Group.

In the lawsuit against Speedway, Stephan Zouras’ attorneys have called on the court to expand the action to include a class of additional plaintiffs.

This would include all current and previous employees at Speedway stores in Illinois who had their fingerprints collected and stored by the company, which they say could amount to “hundreds or more.”

Similarly, the lawsuit against Lettuce asks the court to expand the case into a class action, including “hundreds or more” of Wow Bao customers whose facial biometrics were scanned and stored by the restaurant.

Both lawsuits are asking the court to order the defendants to pay damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation, in addition to attorney fees.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.