The Speedway chain of gas stations and convenience stores and the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants have become the latest businesses to get tagged with class action lawsuits under Illinois’ biometric privacy law.
On Sept. 5, lawyers with the firm of Stephan Zouras LLP, of Chicago, filed two lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of plaintiffs alleging the companies should be made to pay for the ways they store “biometric” information from either their employees or their customers.
In the lawsuit against Lettuce Entertain You, a plaintiff identified as Regina Morris alleges the Lettuce group’s Wow Bao restaurant group improperly collects and stores facial scans of customers who use the chain’s self-order kiosks to order food and drinks. According to the lawsuit, the facial scans are used by the restaurant “as a means of authentication for future food and beverage purchases” when using the kiosks.
However, the lawsuit alleges the restaurants never inform customers of “the extent of the purposes for which it collects their sensitive biometric data or to whom the data is disclosed, if at all.”
Additionally, the lawsuit accuses Lettuce of failing to collect written consent from their customers, and of providing a written policy describing how long the restaurant will store the face scan and when the face scans will be destroyed and removed from their systems.
All of these actions allegedly violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
In her lawsuit, Morris said she allowed her facial biometrics to be scanned and stored at a Wow Bao kiosk at the chain’s restaurant on North Michigan Avenue, and did not receive the information she asserts was required under the Illinois law.
In the lawsuit against Speedway, named plaintiff Christopher Howe, who worked at a Speedway location in suburban Addison from September 2015 to May 2017, accused the convenience store chain of improperly collecting and storing his fingerprints and those of all of its other workers in Illinois.
According to the lawsuit, Speedway required its employees to allow their fingerprints to be scanned, and then required them to use their fingerprints to punch in and out of their work shifts on company time clocks.
The lawsuit accuses Speedway of not informing Howe and other Speedway employees of the company’s policies for collecting, storing and managing the fingerprints, including how long the prints would be stored in the company’s computers after an employee leaves the company.
Howe alleges he was never provided a written form authorizing the company to collect and store his fingerprints, as he asserts is required by Illinois law.
The lawsuit against Speedway is very similar to accusations leveled in separate lawsuits brought in recent wees by other law firms against a number of other Illinois employers, including the parent company of the Mariano's supermarkets chain, the Intercontinental Hotels Group, Otis Spunkmeyer-brand bakery Aryzta and two groups of senior living facilities.
In the lawsuit against Speedway, the Stephan Zouras lawyers have asked the court to expand the action to include a class of additional plaintiffs, including everyone who worked at Speedway stores in Illinois and had their fingerprints collected and stored by Speedway. The lawsuit estimates that class may number in the “hundreds or more.”
The lawsuit against Lettuce similarly asks the court to make the case a class action, including “hundreds or more” of Wow Bao customers whose facial features were scanned and stored by the restaurant for use at its kiosks.
The lawsuits ask the court to order the defendants to pay damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation, plus attorney fees.