Hospital network sued under BIPA

A former director of security and public safety at a hospital in the suburban Chicago area has filed a class action suit against Illinois’ Northshore University Health System, claiming that it violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) by requiring certain workers to have their retina or handprint scanned to access restricted areas, Law360 reports.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that as a Restricted Access Worker, plaintiff Charles Thurman was put at risk of identity theft by the retention of his biometric data, and that Northshore improperly disclosed his data to out-of-state third-party vendors, including Software House, which allegedly runs the biometric system.

“Unlike a Social Security number that can be changed, no amount of time or money can compensate plaintiff and the putative class if their handprint or retina information are compromised by the lax procedures through which defendant captured, stored, used and disseminated their workers’ biometrics,” Thurman alleged in his complaint. “Plaintiff would not have provided his biometric information to defendant if he had known that they would retain such information for an indefinite period of time without his consent.”

Thurman was required to use biometrics to authorize access to the hospital’s nuclear medications and radio areas. Thurman alleges that he was never properly informed in writing of the purpose of the biometric data collection, or of details about the data’s collection, storage, and use. Complicating the matter, Northshore was engaged in merger talks in 2016, and Thurman says he and other staff were not informed how if at all their biometric data would be affected.

Facebook is also fighting a lawsuit under BIPA, and a ruling in that case could affect the criteria for showing harm under the statute.

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