Legal Technology

Some Staff Protest Bay Street Firm's New Finger Scan ID Plan, Ask Why It Doesn't Apply to Lawyers

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As part of a new security campaign, a Canadian insurance law firm on Toronto’s prime Bay Street is installing a fingerprint-identification program that is expected to be up and running this month.

But scanning workers’ prints also admittedly will help McCague Borlack keep track of its employees’ whereabouts. And that has led some support staff to publicly point the finger at the expected new regime. They say it applies only to legal secretaries, not lawyers or even paralegals, and requires them to participate in a humiliating ritual rather than using more standard methods of accounting for their work, such as swipe cards or signed timesheets, according to the Star.

The article says staff members have expressed their concerns in an anonymous Which Finger to Give to Bay Street Lawyers blog. It complains bitterly that the program represents “a complete display of nasty rudeness toward secretarial employees,” and wonders how lawyers would feel if they were subjected to similar checks concerning their billable hours.

The site’s homepage urges readers to complain to lawmakers, the country’s minister of labor and/or the Law Society of Upper Canada and says of the law firm: “We need to give them a different finger. Needless to say, this is not only about us. This matter is about workers’ basic dignity.”

Founding partner Howard Borlack tells the Star that the fingerprint-ID program is being installed primarily to improve law firm security, but says a “huge bonus” of the new program is that it will also help McCague Borlack keep track of workers who abuse their hours by taking lengthy lunches of up to two or three hours or otherwise failing to focus on their work.

“Some people were abusing the system,” he said, and others “were complaining.”

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