Biometric data is becoming increasingly common in everyday life. Many of these advances keep people safe. Yet, many workers have concerns about the security of their personally unique information and how it may be used by their employers. One of those concerns involves the legality of fingerprint clocking.
Protecting your rights as an employee
The first step toward recognizing your rights under biometric privacy laws is to understand precisely what the term entails. Biometric data is a way to distinguish someone's physiological traits to identify them. In other words, it's private information that is unique to you. In time clock issues, biometric data may involve fingerprints, retina or iris scans, hand or face scans, and voiceprints.
What are the laws regarding biometric time clocks?
Many employers have started to use their employees’ biometric data in ways that could violate employee rights. One common way employers have done this is through biometric time clocks that record an employee's time on the job through biological identifiers. Employers resort to this practice to prevent time theft, which happens when other employees clock in or clock out an employee who is not actually in the workplace. But are such practices of collecting biometric data legal?
Illinois is one of a few states with specific biometric laws governing the use of information employers may gather. These regulations include:
- Obtaining written consent from the employee before collecting biometric data
- Notification that data is collected, how it is applied, and how it will be destroyed when no longer in use
- Employers cannot sell or lease their employees’ information
- Employers must abide by strict confidentiality rules, even if the data is no longer needed by the employer
If any Illinois employer does not follow these rules and others, the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) allows an employee to collect fines from the employer ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, plus attorney fees.
If you believe your employer may have collected and/or used your biometric data illegally, you may have recourse against them. Gather as much evidence as possible and contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your case.