Is modern technology invading your right to privacy? Where does the line between employers’ and workers’ rights get drawn? What are biometrics and why should anyone be concerned about them? The Illinois government contemplated these questions.
What Constitutes Biometric Data?
Illinois legislators defined a “biometric identifier” as a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry. Biometrics do NOT include writing samples, written signatures, photographs, human biological samples used for valid scientific testing or screening, demographic data, tattoo descriptions, or physical descriptions of height, weight, hair color or eye color.
The lawmakers determined that unlike other types of information, biometrics are biologically unique identifiers that cannot be changed and thus put individuals at a heightened risk for identity theft, with no recourse. In 2008 the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (known as “IBIPA”) was enacted to protect people’s privacy rights.
What Makes IBIPA Important?
IBIPA is one of the only laws of its kind that allows employees to bring a lawsuit against an employer that fails to obtain written permission before collecting biometric data on its workers. Since the creation of this law a steady number of legal claims are filed each year against employers for failing to provide information and disclosures as to how employees’ private information is being collected, maintained, and/or destroyed at work.
How Is Biometric Data Obtained?
IBIPA violations usually are found in situations where the employer requires an employee to clock-in or clock-out using their thumbprint. Other IBIPA claims can arise where the company uses facial recognition software without first informing the employee and/or otherwise obtaining the employee’s consent.
With recent technological advances it has become increasingly common for employers to use biometric data from workers to assist in keeping track of their hours worked. This is not surprising because the fingerprint or facial recognition software ensures that the individual clocking-in and clocking-out is actually the employee associated with the fingerprint or facial scan.
What Can Be Done If Your Employer Uses Biometrics?
Actual compliance with IBIPA requires that employers follow the specific requirements under the law. Each violation against each employee could result in damages of $1,000, or $5,000 if the violation is found to be willful or intentional. Hundreds of companies have already been sued in Illinois for failing to comply with IBIPA. Many of these claims are pursued as class actions because the company fails to follow protocol related to hundreds (if not thousands) of workers. Meanwhile, in this digital age where nothing seems to be safe, this sensitive information attributed to these employees could be at risk.
USA Employment Lawyers Can Help You Protect Your Privacy Rights
If you are employed in Illinois and you are required to use a thumbprint or facial scanning to clock-in and clock-out of work each day, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact USA Employment Lawyers to learn more about your rights and how you and your co-workers may be entitled to recover money.
Reach out to our experienced and capable attorneys for a case evaluation by calling (779) 444-6585 or filling out our online contact form.