One of the country’s largest human resources services and one of the largest makers of medical technology have become the latest big targets of class action lawsuits under an Illinois biometric information privacy law.
On May 28, attorneys from the firm of Edelson P.C., of Chicago, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of named plaintiff Rachel Labarre against Ceridian HCM Inc.
That lawsuit followed a class action lawsuit filed on May 24 by attorneys from the firm of Stephan Zouras LLP, of Chicago, on behalf of named plaintiff Corey Heard against Becton Dickinson & Co.
Both companies were accused in the actions of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
J. Eli Wade-Scott, an associate attorney with Edelson P.C., is serving as one of the lead attorneys representing plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Ceridian, filed May 28, in Cook County. Edelson P.C.
In the action against Ceridian, the plaintiffs assert the human resources software and services giant should be made to pay for allegedly supplying a host of Illinois employers with so-called biometric time clocks, without also supplying notices to those employers and their workers which plaintiffs claim the law requires of Ceridian.
The lawsuit centers on Ceridian’s “cloud-based time and attendance system” known as Dayforce. According to the complaint, Ceridian often supplies employers using Dayforce with biometric time clocks. Workers are then required to scan their fingerprints each time they punch in and out of a work shift, to verify their identities.
Vendors have marketed such biometric time clocks as a key aspect of strategies to reduce so-called “punch fraud,” in which employees help their co-workers either arrive late or leave work early, without suffering any loss in pay and without a punch record to establish their absence.
According to the complaint, named plaintiff Labarre worked at a Standard Market grocery store from April 2018-March 2019, where she was required to scan her fingerprint on a Dayforce biometric time clock.
The complaint does not state at which store Labarre worked. However, Standard Market operated stores in suburban Westmont and Naperville, according to the store’s website. The Naperville store closed at the end of March 2019, the website said.
In the lawsuit filed against Becton Dickinson, the company is accused of supplying hospitals in Illinois with technology which allows the hospitals to require workers to scan fingerprints to access automated medicine dispensaries within hospitals.
The lawsuit specifically mentions Becton Dickinson’s Pyxis Medication system.
According to the complaint, Becton Dickinson has supplied the Pyxis devices to “dozens of hospitals” in Illinois, “including St. Bernard Hospital, Norwegian American Hospital, Community First Medical Center, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, amongst others.”
The complaint noted each hospital typically contains “multiple Pyxis devices.”
According to the complaint, Heard worked as a “respiratory therapist” at several of those hospitals from May 2015 to May 2019, and “as a condition of employment, … was required to scan his fingerprint so it could be used as an authentication method to access the Pyxis devices.”
Both complaints accuse the defendants of scanning and storing workers’ fingerprint images on their biometric devices, but not notifying workers of how that information was stored, for how long and how the vendors would ultimately dispose of the information.
Neither did the vendors obtain written authorization from the workers before scanning their prints, the lawsuits assert.
The class actions come as part of a new front in the building wave of class actions filed under the Illinois BIPA law. To this point, the bulk of class actions have been filed against employers using the biometric time clocks and other biometric devices.
But in more recent months, lawsuits have targeted the vendors supplying the devices, as well.
Several actions are pending in court against worker time clock vendor Kronos Inc., leveling similar allegations to those targeted at Ceridian in the new lawsuit.
Becton Dickinson also has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit against Northwestern Memorial Hospital over its medicine dispensaries.
In the lawsuits, plaintiffs have requested damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation. Under the law, a single violation could include each time an employee scans a fingerprint or handprint when punching in or out of a work shift, or when accessing a medicine dispensary. Such findings could leave even small employers or other businesses on the hook for millions of dollars in damages and fees.