Chicago law firm faces biometric privacy suit for allegedly storing legal secretary's fingerprints
The Biometric Information Privacy Act was enacted in 2008. Image from Shutterstock.
A former legal secretary at Mandell Menkes has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago law firm for allegedly scanning and storing her fingerprints in its time clock system.
Nancy Gagen, who was employed by Mandell Menkes from 2006 through 2019, alleges in her Aug. 18 complaint that the firm unlawfully collected, used, retained and disclosed her “personal biometric identifiers and biometric information” in violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. Gagen filed the complaint in the Cook County Circuit Court.
“This lawsuit is plaintiff’s one and only chance to obtain compensation for defendant’s violations of BIPA,” the complaint says. “Depending on how technology evolves years into the future, losing control of and ownership over very personal identifiers could have untold harmful consequences.”
According to Gagen, Mandell Menkes installed a Fingertec Biometric device in 2015 and began requiring her to scan her right index finger at the start and end of each shift, as well as each time that she left and returned from her lunch break. The device was linked to a Fingertec time clock system.
Despite mandates under the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which was enacted in 2008, Gagen alleges in her complaint that Mandell Menkes did not inform her why or for how long that it intended to collect, store and use her biometric identifiers and biometric information. She said the firm never informed her of a biometric data retention policy or whether it would permanently delete her information.
Gagen also alleges that she never signed a written release permitting her biometric information to be obtained.
“BIPA was enacted with the understanding that ‘the full ramifications of biometric technology are not fully known,’” according to her complaint. “The legislature specifically found that persons who have their biometrics taken unlawfully are at increased risk of future injury.”
Gagen is seeking statutory damages in the case.
Law.com reports that neither counsel for Gagen nor Mandell Menkes responded to requests for comment.