Illinois Biometric Privacy Attorneys
Helping Employees Protect Their Privacy in the State of Illinois
Your boss may have asked you to provide a fingerprint or eye scan to comply with newer technology, and you may not have thought much about the privacy implications. The reality is offering this type of biometric data opens you up to significant risk should your data be mishandled.
Biometric data that is improperly stored or recklessly handled could potentially be compromised, leading to a heightened possibility of identity theft for impacted parties. Illinois’ biometric information privacy law seeks to stymie this problem by more heavily regulating the collection, storage, and distribution of biometric data.
The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is the first biometric regulation in the United States. Enacted in 2008, BIPA enables employees whose biometric data was gathered without their written consent to bring legal action against their employer. Under BIPA, private companies that utilize biometric information from their employees must have a written policy, schedule, and guidelines in place outlining its collection, retention, and destruction. BIPA requires that employers provide employees with advance disclosure of their policies and obtain a written release from employees whose information is going to be collected.
If you believe your biometric privacy rights have been violated, our Illinois biometric privacy lawyers at USA Employment Lawyers can help evaluate whether you have a case and help you explore your legal options. You may be entitled to recover damages, and our team can vigorously advocate for your interests.
What Is Considered Biometric Data?
The term “biometric data” can be confusing. It is important to distinguish what type of personal information is protected under BIPA.
Under Illinois law, the following types of personal information are considered protected biometric data:
- Retina, iris, or eye scans
- Hand scans
- Facial geometry scans
The following types of information may be considered sensitive but are not considered biometric data:
- Demographic data (including your race, national origin, religion)
- Handwriting samples
- Written signatures
- Employee photographs
- Tattoo descriptions or photographs
- Physical identifiers or descriptions (including eye color, hair color, height, and approximate weight)
- Biological samples for scientific screening (including any materials required for drug tests)
Why Is Protecting Biometric Data Important?
The distinguishing factor of biometric data is its unique specificity and inelasticity to every individual. Unlike a person’s weight, hair color, or written signature, biometric data cannot be changed and is exclusive to any given person. As a result, biometric data is inherently more useful to identity thieves.
Why Do Workplaces Collect Biometric Data?
You may be wondering why any workplace bothers to collect biometric data at all. Having photographs and written signatures on file makes sense to identify employees, but it may be initially unclear why your boss would need an eye or hand scan.
The desire for biometric data stems from a joint desire to better monitor employees while also making use of advances in security technology. New and renovated offices may have terminals that rely on eye, face, hand, or fingerprint scans to access the building and/or clock in and out. Remote employees may also be asked to provide biometric scans when signing into their company’s computer system. The idea behind collecting biometric data is to confirm with near certainty that employees on the premises and /or logging hours are exactly who they say they are.
How BIPA Protects Illinois Workers
Under BIPA, an employer cannot collect, use, store or disseminate your biometric data without your explicit, written consent. In order to obtain or begin to use biometric data for any reason, your employer must explain in writing what it will be used for and how it will be stored. Even if you voluntarily allowed biometric data to be collected, your employer cannot legally use or store it in the state of Illinois without your written consent.
BIPA also regulates how your employer must collect, process, store, and dispose of biometric data. Employers may not be in compliance with BIPA rules governing biometric data use, which is intended to prevent leaks and mishandling. The ultimate goal is to protect workers and keep their most sensitive data from inappropriate usage, up to and including identity theft.
If your biometric data was collected without your consent or was otherwise improperly used, BIPA empowers you to bring a lawsuit against your employer. Each violation against a single employee can result in the recovery of $1,000 in damages if the behavior was unintentional. If it is found that your employer willfully and recklessly violated BIPA regulations, you could receive up to $5,000 in damages per instance. Our Illinois biometric privacy lawyers can work to hold your employer accountable and help you recover damages.
We Will Fight to Protect Your Biometric Data
Since BIPA was introduced, hundreds of thousands of employees have pursued legal action against their employers for improper collection and use of biometric data. Many cases are pursued as class action lawsuits due to the sheer scale of the wrongdoing, often involving thousands of employees over weeks, months, or years.
Our Illinois biometric privacy lawyers at USA Employment Lawyers are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure your sensitive data is protected. Our team has a full understanding of BIPA regulations and can evaluate the facts of your situation to determine if you have a case.
If you have been using a fingerprint, eye, or facial scanner to enter your office building, sign into your company’s computer system, or clock in and out but you were never presented with your employer’s biometric privacy procedures and/or you never signed a release, your rights may have been violated. We will work to help you recover the maximum amount of damages you are entitled to under the law.