Hotel Chain Hit with Class Action Alleging “Misuse” of Biometric Data
Hotel chain Fillmore Hospitality, LLC is the latest target of a proposed class action complaint filed this week, alleging violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). We don’t usually discuss the specific allegations in BIPA cases, but since they continue to populate the litigation landscape, we thought it would be instructive to taker a deeper dive so companies are aware of the minefield these cases present and how they really are a roadmap for compliance.
According to the Complaint by the named plaintiff who worked at a Cambria Hotel in Chicago, “[T]his case concerns the misuse of individuals’ biometrics by Defendants, a leading hotel chain with locations across the United States.” The defendants are allegedly doing so by using biometrics for clocking in and out without notice and obtaining express written consent from employees. It further alleges that the company failed to “publish publicly available retention guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information.”
The Complaint goes on to say that “[C]ompliance with BIPA is straightforward and may be accomplished through a single, signed sheet of paper. BIPA’s requirements bestow a right to privacy in biometrics and a right to make an informed decision when electing whether to provide or withhold biometrics.”
According to the Complaint, the defendants used handprints or portions thereof, including fingerprints, for authentication and timekeeping purposes, and then disseminated the biometric information to third parties, including data storage vendors and payroll services. These actions allegedly violated the plaintiff’s right to biometric privacy.
The Complaint requests injunctive relief and statutory damages. The injunctive relief requested is a requirement that defendants comply with the BIPA requirements for the “capture, collection, storage, use, and dissemination of biometric identifiers and biometric information;” the award of statutory damages of $1,000 for each violation of BIPA; and the award of reasonable attorney’s fees, costs and litigation expenses, including pre- and post-award interest.
This case is another reminder to all companies located in Illinois, or doing business in Illinois to be aware of BIPA and to consider implementing a compliance program to stay out of the cross-hairs of class action litigators.