The owners of the Shop & Save supermarkets in and around Chicago have become one of the latest targets of a class action lawsuit, accusing the company of violating Illinois’ biometrics privacy in the way its workers were required to scan their “biometrics” when punching the clock.
On March 11, the operators of the regional grocery group, corporately known as Lemont Grove Advisors LLC, was sued in Cook County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Andrew T. Heldut and Timothy P. Kingsbury, of McGuire Law P.C., of Chicago. The complaint identified Patricia Ann Green as the named plaintiff on the action, which seeks to expand to include virtually everyone who worked at a Chicago area Shop & Save store in recent years.
According to the complaint, Green worked at the Shop & Save store in Downers Grove. The complaint does not state when she worked there.
Shop & Save also operates two stores in Chicago, at 6312 N. Nagle and 5829 S. Archer, as well as in Niles, Des Plaines and Bridgeview.
According to the complaint, Shop & Save requires workers to scan their “biometrics” when punching in and out of work shifts using the stores’ so-called biometric timeclocks to track their work hours. In most other instances, such “biometrics” have typically been workers’ fingerprints.
However, the complaint asserts Shop & Save did not first obtain written authorization from its workers before requiring the fingerprint scans, nor did the company provide employees with notices regarding how those fingerprint scans would be stored, saved, shared, used and ultimately destroyed. The complaint claims this violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
In recent years, hundreds of employers throughout Illinois, of all types and sizes, have been hit with class action lawsuits under the Illinois BIPA law. The class actions largely mirror each other, centering on the employers’ use of the biometric timekeeping devices and the employers’ alleged failure to follow the technical notice and authorization provisions under the BIPA law.
The lawsuits surged in 2019 and to date in 2020, after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled plaintiffs do not need to prove they were ever actually harmed by a technical violation of the law to press their claims.
In their complaint, Green and her McGuire Law attorneys ask the court to order Shop & Save to pay damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation. In other cases, attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants have asserted those violations could be defined as each time an employee punches the clock.
This means employers could be on the hook for damages worth millions of dollars or more.