Three new BIPA lawsuits over biometric time and attendance systems
Proposed class action lawsuits have been filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Enova Financial Holdings Inc., DaBecca Natural Foods Inc. and janitorial service Geralex claiming the companies violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). This is the latest litigation brought under BIPA, which makes companies liable for damages if they fail to properly keep people informed about the use of their biometric identifiers.
Cook County Record reports that Enova Financial Holdings is accused by a former employee, who was required by Enova to use a biometric time clock to keep track of her attendance, of improperly disclosing employees’ data to out-of-state third-party vendors and claims the company failed to destroy workers’ biometric data when the initial purpose for obtaining such data had been satisfied or within three years of employee’s last interactions with them. The plaintiff also alleges that Enova never provided workers with nor ever asked them to sign a written release permitting the company to obtain and store their biometric data.
Geralex Janitorial Services is also accused of collecting and storing employees’ biometric data without consent. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs have suffered injury from the unlawful collection and storage of their biometric data that compromised employees’ and former employees’ sensitive financial and personal data and exposes them to serious and irreversible privacy risks, threat of identity theft and unauthorized tracking. They also allege Geralex failed to inform employees in writing of the purpose and duration for which their fingerprints were being collected and stored, and failed to provide a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines.
In the DaBecca Natural Foods related complaint, the plaintiffs allege that they suffered damages as a result of the allegedly unlawful conduct of the defendant in requiring employees to scan their handprints to track work hours. They also allege DaBecca failed to inform its employees of the complete purposes for which it collects their biometric data; failed to get written consent that allowed them to collect or store their employees’ biometric information, and; failed to provide employees with a written retention schedule and guidelines for the permanent destruction of the biometric data.
In each case the defendants could face damages of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, which, according to the Cook County Record report, is considered by the law to be each time an employee used the biometric time clock.
Following last month’s Illinois Supreme Court decision that reduced the harm threshold required for an individual to bring suit under BIPA, law firm Lewis Brisbois formed a new BIPA sub-practice to focus on the increase in litigation brought against companies that collect or use biometric information in Illinois.
In January an insurance company asked an Illinois state judge to declare it not responsible for covering a grocery store chain accused of violating state biometrics laws.