An employee of a skilled nursing and rehab center in Illinois is taking his employer to court over mandatory fingerprint scans he says violate a state privacy law.
Martin Ragsdale filed suit in Illinois circuit court against Paramount of Oak Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, according to Law360. Ragsdale said Paramount violated hundreds or thousands of its employees’ right to privacy by requiring twice-daily fingerprint scans: one as they clock in, one as they clock out.
Specifically, Ragsdale said the rehab and skilled nursing facility is breaking the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a law that regulates the collection and storage of biometric data such as fingerprints, iris scans or face recognition technology.
The suit claimed the “invasive” fingerprint scans put workers’ personal information at risk of being stolen in data breaches or other privacy lapses.
“Unlike a Social Security number, which can be changed, no amount of time or money can compensate [workers] if their fingerprints are compromised by the lax procedures through which defendants capture, collect, store and use their workers’ biometrics,” according to the suit, as reported by Law360.
Ragsdale has asked the court to stop Paramount from collecting more fingerprint data and force the provider to destroy the information it has on file. He’s also asked for an unspecified amount of damages and legal fees.
Paramount of Oak Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center didn’t comment on the lawsuit when reached by Skilled Nursing News.
This case is the most recent in a wave of BIPA suits filed against companies in recent months, according to Brian Spang, an attorney in the Chicago office of national law firm Epstein Becker Green. Grocery store chain Roundy’s Supermarkets, Kimpton hotels and data center operator Zayo Group have all recently ended up in the crosshairs of such lawsuits, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“These cases raise significant questions relating to standing and actual injury,” Spang told Skilled Nursing News. “Even if a technical violation of the statutory requirements has occurred, it seems extremely unlikely that a plaintiff has suffered any type of injury. Plaintiffs’ counsel are filing class action seeking statutory liquidated damages in the likely absence of any actual harm to any individual.”
Other Illinois nursing homes could be vulnerable to such suits in the future if they use similar fingerprint scanning or other biometric data collection methods, Spang said.
Written by Tim Regan