2019 Acura TLX | Courtesy of Acura
A southwest suburban auto dealership group and a company that makes and supports technology car dealers use to secure their cars’ keys have become some of the latest targets of a class action lawsuit under an Illinois biometrics privacy law.
On Nov. 12, attorney David Fish and others from The Fish Law Firm P.C., of Naperville, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Joe Rizza Auto Group and Keytrak Inc.
Rizza operates a group of car dealerships in Orland Park and Tinley Park, including Joe Rizza Acura, Joe Rizza Alpha Romeo, Joe Rizza Maserati, Porsche Orland Park, Rizza Buick GMC Cadillac and Joe Rizza Ford, among others.
Keytrak, known corporately as Key Control Holding Inc., is based in College Station, Texas.
The class action, which was filed on behalf of named plaintiff Chrisanna Abad, accuses Rizza and Keytrak of violating the rights of workers at the Rizza dealerships under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
The lawsuit specifically takes aim at Rizza’s use of the Keytrak technology to keep tabs on which employees may have the keys to various automobiles sold at the Rizza dealerships.
Under the system, Rizza employees who need to access a car’s key for customer test drives or other purposes, “are required to scan their fingerprint into the Keytrak biometric system,” according to the complaint. The complaint acknowledges the system has “tremendous benefits” and “creates an audit trail identifying the employee who checked out a key.”
However, the complaint asserts the dealership violated the BIPA law by requiring workers to use the fingerprint scanning system without first securing written authorization from employees or providing written notices to the employees regarding how the fingerprint scans would be saved, stored, shared and ultimately destroyed. The complaint alleges the notices and authorization are required under BIPA.
According to the complaint, Abad worked for Rizza from January-April 2019. The complaint doesn’t specify what position Abad held at the Rizza dealerships. However, the complaint indicates Abad was required to scan a fingerprint “each time Abad showed a customer a vehicle or gave a test drive.”
The lawsuit seeks to include as additional plaintiffs all Rizza employees who scanned a fingerprint into the Rizza Keytrak system. The complaint estimates the plaintiffs believe the class could include “hundreds” of others.
The lawsuit is among the latest in a rising wave of BIPA-related class actions filed and pending in Cook County and other Illinois courts. The lawsuits have targeted tech giants like Facebook and Google, but the vast majority of class actions to date have taken aim at employers who use biometric systems to either track workers’ hours and payroll, or to secure high-risk or sensitive areas or goods. Hospitals, for instance, have been targeted under the lawsuits for the manner in which they have required employees to scan fingerprints when accessing drug supply rooms. Railroads have been sued for requiring truck drivers to scan handprints when accessing secured rail yards, as required under federal law.
As with the other lawsuits, the action against Rizza asks the court to award damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation, plus attorney fees. Under the law, some observers and litigants believe a violation could be defined as each time a worker scans a fingerprint. This could quickly add up to millions of dollars in damages for even small employers.