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Intercontinental Hotels employees file class action over fingerprint use


Plaintiff employees of the Intercontinental Hotel Group have filed a class action lawsuit against the hotel chain over claims that it wrongly collected and used their fingerprints and other biometric information, violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), according to a report by Cook County Record.

In late June, plaintiff Eric Zepeda filed a putative class action lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against IHG and its subsidiary, the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, stating the hotel chain should financial compensate them for allegedly violating the state privacy law.

The hotel has hundreds of employees at numerous hotels and resort properties in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

The UK-based IHG, which includes the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Kimpton Hotels brands, operates its Americas regional office in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Kimpton is based in California, and operates four boutique hotels in Chicago.

In his lawsuit, Zepeda, an Illinois resident who “has worked at one of (IHG’s) hotels in the Chicago area,” and his counsel claim IHG and Kimpton have violated for the last three years the Illinois BIPA law.

The privacy law requires employers to notify workers that their biometric data is being collected and retained, inform workers in writing the purpose and timeframe of collecting data, and receive written consent from workers before collecting biometric data.

According to the lawsuit, IHG and Kimpton violated the law in 2014 when the hotel chain implemented a new employee time and attendance tracking system which required employees to scan their fingerprints to punch in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts.

“Defendants’ new system ensures that workers can only verify their attendance and timeliness through scanning their fingerprints,” the lawsuit said, adding that Kimpton never properly obtained their employees’ consent to obtain and use their fingerprints.

The hotel also allegedly failed to notify workers how their fingerprints would be stored or used, whether and how it would share the data with third party vendors and others, or how it planned to delete the biometric data.

“To this day, Plaintiff (Zepeda) is unaware of the status of his biometric data and biometric information that was obtained by Defendants,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants have not informed Plaintiff whether they still retain his information, and if they do, for how long they intend to retain it without his consent.”

The lawsuit requests that the court expand the lawsuit to include potentially “hundreds, if not thousands” of additional plaintiff class members, including any IHG and Kimpton workers “whose biometrics were captured, obtained, stored or used by (IHG and Kimpton) within the state of Illinois any time within the applicable limitations period.”

The plaintiffs and counsel list damages of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, in addition to legal fees and interest, which could potentially result in a multi-million dollar judgment.

The lawsuit is one of many recent employment-related action brought forward by plaintiffs in Cook County court against employers for allegedly violating the Illinois BIPA law in regards to the improper collection and use of employee fingerprints.

Earlier this year, employees at Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc. filed a class action suit alleging that the supermarket chain violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

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