Cross-posted from Employment Law Lookout.
Seyfarth Synopsis: A string of recent class action lawsuits regarding businesses’ use of employees’ biometric data should put employers on heightened alert regarding compliance with various state biometric privacy laws.
As biometric technology has become more advanced and affordable, more employers have begun implementing procedures and systems that rely on employees’ biometric data. “Biometrics” are measurements of individual biological patterns or characteristics such as fingerprints, voiceprints, and eye scans that can be used to quickly and easily identify employees. However, unlike social security numbers or other personal identifiers, biometrics are biologically unique and, generally speaking, immutable. Thus, unlike a bank account or a social security number, which can be changed if it is stolen, biometric data, when compromised, cannot be changed or replaced, leaving an affected individual without recourse and at a heightened risk for identity theft. Given the serious repercussions of compromised biometric data, a number of states have proposed or passed laws regulating the collection and storage of biometric data. And plaintiffs’ attorneys are taking notice, as the number of class action lawsuits in this area has surged in recent months.
Currently, there are three states that have statutes regulating the collection and storage of biometric data: Illinois, Texas, and Washington. In 2008, Illinois passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Texas followed suit in 2009, and Washington passed its biometric privacy law in 2017. Continue Reading Hazards Ahead: Uptick in Biometric Privacy Laws Can Put Employers in Hot Seat