Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Building supply company accused of violating provisions of biometric privacy act

State Court

By John Breslin | Nov 6, 2019


EDWARDSVILLE - A building supply company faces a potential class action over claims it violated provisions of a statute designed to protect employees' personal information.

Missouri-based Mid-Am Building Supplies is accused of collecting, storing and using biometric identifiers and information without the written consent of its employees.

Misti Brashear-Finney, in her complaint filed Oct. 25 in Madison County Circuit Court, states she worked for the company at its Centralia facility until 2016. She claims that the company has been collecting employee fingerprints since 2012.

Brashear-Finney is suing on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, and is asking for the case to be certified as a class action.

Mid-Am Building Supplies, headquartered in Moberly, Missouri, did not respond to a call for comment from the Record.

The plaintiff is alleging the company violatied various provisions of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which was enacted to protect the privacy of individuals in the information age..

Employers, and other companies that ask for biometric information, must inform a person in writing the data will be collected, reveal the specific purpose, receive written release, and publish details of how long it will be retained.

The complaint alleges that Mid-Am is "actively capturing, storing and using" information gleaned from biometric data without notice or informed written consent, and without publishing data retention policies. The company violated "all three prongs" of BIPA, it is claimed.

While Mid-Am is based in Missouri, and its Illinois base is in Centralia in Marion County, the plaintiff lives in Madison County, according to the complaint.

The lead plaintiff in the potential class actions is seeking $5,000 for each alleged reckless violation of the act and $1,000 for every negligent one.

The case is one of a number of actions alleging violations BIPA following an Illinois Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that no actual harm has to be proved to be successful in suing under the act.

Brashear-Finney is represented by Brandon Wise of Pfeiffer, Wolf, Carr & Kane of St. Louis, Gary Klinger of Koronis & Klinger, Chicago, and Daniel R. Johnson, Adam T. Waskowski, and Seth Yohalem of Waskowski Johnson Yohalem, Chicago.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 2019-L-1523.

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