Employee fingerprint scans land provider in class-action lawsuit

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The suit was field Tuesday in Illinois circuit court.
The suit was field Tuesday in Illinois circuit court.

An Illinois nursing home is facing a class-action lawsuit filed by a worker who argues that the facility's required daily fingerprint scans pose a threat to their privacy.

The suit, filed Tuesday, claims Paramount of Oak Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center's practice of requiring biometric scans when employees clock in and clock out is in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. The act was created to regulate the “collection, use, safeguarding, handling, storage, retention, and destruction” of biometric information such as retina scans or fingerprints.

Martin Ragsdale, an employee of the Oak Park, IL, facility who filed the suit, said in the complaint that the fingerprint scan process is new, and the only way to prove work attendance. The suit claims the scans are “invasive” and “expose workers to serious and irreversible privacy risks — risks that BIPA was designed to avoid — including the ever-present risk of a data breach,” Law360 reported.

“Unlike a Social Security number, which can be changed, no amount of time or money can compensate [the workers] if their fingerprints are compromised by the lax procedures through which defendants capture, collect, store and use their workers' biometrics,” the suit reads.

The suit, which Ragsdale said could apply to hundreds of employees, seeks an injunction on Paramount gathering more fingerprints and requests that it destroy the ones it has already collected. Each negligent violation of BIPA could result in $1,000 in damages, or up to $5,000 for willful or reckless violations if the facility is found to be sending the fingerprint data to out of state vendors.

A request for comment from Paramount was not returned by production deadline Thursday.