Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Former employee sues company over biometric data collection, retention

State Court

By John Breslin | Sep 10, 2019


A former employee of a logistics company claims his employer unlawfully collected and stored his biometric information.

Alonzo Hayes is suing Saddle Creek Corporation, a logistics company, in Madison County Circuit Court. The plaintiff is seeking class certification for the action.

The suit argues that most employers still use "conventional" methods for tracking time, including identification badges and punch clocks.

But, the plaintiff claims, his employer required employees to be fingerprinted, which was scanned by a biometric device.

The suit is one of a number filed against companies following a Illinois Supreme Court decision earlier this year which stated a plaintiff does not have to prove actual harm to take an action.

This suit, like others, claims that biometric data is "unique and permanent." It cites various cases where companies were hacked and data information was breached, including Equifax, Uber, and Facebook.

Employers have few means to prevent identification theft, it is claimed, with the plaintiff adding that the illegal market for biometric information is large and global.

The suit claims violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law mandates that any employee must give written approval for the taking of biometric information and for them to be informed of any retention policy. 

"BIPA protects employees like plaintiff and the putative class from this precise conduct, and defendant had no right to secure this data," the suit states, adding that "no amount of time and money can compensate plaintiff if his biometric data is compromised by the lax procedures through which the defendant captured, stored, used, and disseminated" the data of the plaintiff and others.  

Hayes claims he was not told of the retention policy and did not give his written consent for it to be taken and held.

The plaintiff is represented by Brandon W. Wise of Pfeiffer, Wolf, Carr and Kane of St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 2019-L-1186.

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