Flexicorps Inc. has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to end class action lawsuit claims that the company violated Illinois employees’ privacy rights by requiring them to use their fingerprints to clock-in and out for work.
Individuals who can benefit from the settlement agreement include Illinois residents who were required to provide “biometric information” for timekeeping purpose to Flexicorps as a part of their employment between Feb. 13, 2013 and Feb. 13, 2018. Biometric information includes fingerprints and hand scans.
According to the Flexicorps class action lawsuit, the company violated an Illinois law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act.
Under the law, also known as BIPA, employers have to meet several requirements before asking their employees for biometric information.
These requirements include obtaining a written release from each employee and disclosing to employees that biometric information is being collected and used, along with when the information will be destroyed.
The lead plaintiff alleged that Flexicorps failed to meet those requirements when it collected fingerprints from employees for timekeeping purposes.
Flexicorps is a staffing agency with offices around the nation. It offers a myriad of employees, from temporary to permanent to fill industrial, technical, office, and administrative positions, according to the company website.
“While most employers use conventional methods for tracking time worked (such as ID badge swipes or punch clocks), Defendant mandated and required that its employees have their fingerprints scanned by a biometric timekeeping device,” stated the Flexicorps class action lawsuit.
“Unlike ID badges or time cards – which can be changed or replaced if stolen or compromised – fingerprints biometrics are unique, permanent biometric identifiers associated with each employee. This exposes Defendant’s employees to serious and irreversible privacy risks. For example, if a biometric database is hacked, breached, or otherwise exposed – such as in the recent Equifax data breach – employees have no means by which to prevent identity theft, unauthorized tracking, and other improper or unlawful use of this information.”
The Flexicorps class action lawsuit claimed that the company failed to properly inform or get written permission from its employees to collect their fingerprints. The plaintiff says that the company has no guidelines in place about when this information will be destroyed, exposing him and others to the risk of identity theft.
“There is no realistic way, absent surgery, to reassign someone’s biometric data,” pointed out the complaint.
“A person can obtain a new social security number, but not a new fingerprint or hand, which makes the protection of, and control over, biometric identifiers and biometric information particularly important – particularly given the increasing use of biometric information or identifiers in the stream of commerce and financial transactions and the ever-increasing rate of corporate data breaches.”
The Flexicorp class action lawsuit also noted that, “[w]hile Defendant may claim that a data breach is unlikely to occur, that narrow view does not comport with the overwhelming view of data security experts, which can be best summarized by the phrase, ‘it’s not if, but when.’”
The plaintiff claimed that he and other Class Members had no idea what Flexicorps would do with their biometric information.
The Flexicorps class action lawsuit was filed on Feb. 13, 2018, but the parties agreed to stay the proceedings pending a decision by the Illinois Supreme Court in a similar matter. The stay was lifted on March 6, 2019 after which the parties entered into mediation.
As a result of those negotiations, although Flexicorps does not admit any wrongdoing, it has agreed to pay $939,200 to end the allegations.
Under the terms of the Flexicorps class action lawsuit settlement, Class Members will receive an equal share of the settlement fund after plaintiffs’ awards, attorney and administrative fees are paid.
Class Members will be automatically entered into the settlement and be provided notice. Class Members who want to exclude themselves from the settlement must submit a signed exclusion form to the lawyers representing the Class by June 15, 2020. Those who wish to object, must do so in writing to the court by June 15, 2020 as well.
The final approval hearing for the Flexicorps class action settlement is scheduled for July 2, 2020.
Class Members include Illinois residents who were required to provide “biometric information” for timekeeping purposes to Flexicorps as a part of their employment between Feb. 13, 2013 and Feb. 13, 2018. Biometric information includes fingerprints and hand scans.
To be determined. Class Members will receive a share of the $939,200 Settlement Fund, after attorney and administrative costs and fees, and plaintiffs’ awards are deducted.
Proof of Purchase
None required. Class Members will be automatically entered into the settlement.
Exclusion and Objection Deadline
Thome v. Flexicorps Inc., Case No. 2018-CH-01751, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Thome v Flexicorps Settlement Administrator
c/o Rust Consulting, Inc – 6965
PO Box 54
Minneapolis, MN 55440-0054
Class Counsel: 312-233-1550 or 314-833-4827
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J. Hayes Ryan
Brian H. Myers
GORDON REES SCULLY MANSUKHANI LLP
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