Lawsuit Alleges Unlawful Collection of Employees’ Fingerprints

A fast-food chain is accused of breaking Illinois state laws regarding biometric data.
By: | September 25, 2018 • 2 min read
Topics: Employment Law
collecting fingerprints

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s, accusing the company of breaking state laws in regard to the way it stores and handles biometric data, namely employees’ fingerprints. The complaint is based on Wendy’s practice of using biometric clocks that scan employees’ fingerprints when they arrive at work, when they leave and when they use the Point-Of-Sale and cash register systems.

The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 11, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by ZDNet.

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Former Wendy’s employees Martinique Owens and Amelia Garcia filed the suit, claiming that Wendy’s breaks state law, specifically the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, because the company does not make employees aware of how the company handles their data.

More specifically, the lawsuit claims that Wendy’s does not inform employees in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their fingerprints were being collected, stored, and used, as required by the BIPA, and nor does it obtain a written release from employees with explicit consent to obtain and handle the fingerprints in the first place. The fast-food chain also doesn’t provide a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying employees’ fingerprints after they leave the company, plaintiffs said.

“While there are tremendous benefits to using biometric time clocks in the workplace, there are also serious risks. Unlike key fobs or identification cards–which can be changed or replaced if stolen or compromised–fingerprints are unique, permanent biometric identifiers associated with the employee,” the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint. “This exposes employees to serious and irreversible privacy risks.”

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