Ex-employee sues Danville maker over fingerprint scanners used for pointing | New

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DANVILLE – A manufacturer in Danville is one of the latest Illinois companies to face class actions alleging privacy violations over the use of fingerprint scanners to point out workers in and out of their shifts.

Like other Thyssenkrupp Crankshaft employees, former employee Brenda Wickens scanned her fingerprint every time she clocked in and out of her job at the local factory at 1000 Lynch Road, Danville. The plant is a subsidiary of Thyssenkrupp AG, a German multinational conglomerate that focuses on engineering and steel production.

The potential class action lawsuit was filed on September 11 in U.S. Northern District court on Wickens’ behalf and alleges the company violated Illinois privacy laws by failing to notify him correctly of the purpose of the use of his fingerprint, of the duration for which it would be stored. , how it would be destroyed permanently and without obtaining his written consent to use his fingerprint.

In a separate issue, the lawsuit also alleges that the company failed to pay adequate overtime to other employees and to Wickens, whose employment ended this year.

Attorney David Fish of Naperville, who represents Wickens, said employers were using fingerprint scanners to reduce labor costs, for example, by eliminating the “punch” in a traditional system score card when a colleague hits a colleague who may be absent or late for a shift.

State law doesn’t prohibit companies from using this fingerprint scanning technology, Fish said, it just requires them to keep their employees informed. And many employers are using the system but breaking the law, he added.

“We hear from the employees every week,” he said. “It’s an easy law to abide by. And it allows workers to decide whether or not they want to share information. “

In 2008, Illinois pioneered privacy laws regarding biometric information – fingerprints, iris and retina scans, voice prints or hand geometry scans, and facial – in response to a 2007 bankruptcy filing from Pay By Touch, a company that provided retailers in the state with fingerprint scanners for consumer transactions.

As a result, millions of fingerprints could be sold, distributed or shared as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act requires that employees or customers be informed in writing of the reasons why a business collects biometric information; written notification of how long the information will be stored and used; a timetable and guidelines for the permanent destruction of information; and the person’s written consent to collect and use biometric information.

Since late 2017, there has been a wave of similar class actions against Illinois companies – including United Airlines owner United Continental Holdings Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. – for the use of computer scanners. ‘fingerprints.

A case involving Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and a 14-year-old whose fingerprints were obtained for a season pass was taken to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled earlier this year that an individual can sue only on the basis for a technical violation of the law without alleging harm, such as monetary damages resulting from misuse of biometric information.

Wickens’ attorneys at Fish law firm in Naperville do not allege any misuse or violation of fingerprints collected from employees.

The complaint alleges only technical violations by Thysennkrupp, stating that the company “has violated (and continues to violate)” the law’s requirements for written notification and consent.

“This exposes employees to serious and irreversible risks to privacy,” the complaint states. “For example, if a fingerprint database is hacked, breached, or otherwise exposed, employees have no way to prevent identity theft and unauthorized tracking.”

The lawsuit seeks an order declaring that the company’s conduct violates the law, an order ordering the company to end the illegal practices and an award of damages.

Illinois law allows “liquidated damages” of $ 1,000 for negligent violation or $ 5,000 for intentional or reckless violation, and attorney fees and injunctive relief are also available. .


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