Fast food chain Wendy’s is facing a class-action lawsuit filed by its former employees in a Cook County court in Illinois. The main target of the complaint is the method used by Wendy’s to manage and store the biometric information of its employees.
The lawsuit was filed on September 11 and claims that Wendy’s failed to notify its workers informing them in writing how long their fingerprint data was stored and for what purpose, which is required by the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). To begin with, the fast food restaurant also does not ask prior consent from its employees before it uses their biometric data, according to the lawsuit.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs stated:
"While there are tremendous benefits to using biometric time clocks in the workplace, there are also serious risks. Unlike key fobs or identification cards which can be changed or replaced if stolen or compromised – fingerprints are unique, permanent biometric identifiers associated with the employee. This exposes employees to serious and irreversible privacy risks."
The plaintiffs, represented by former Wendy's employees Martinique Owens and Amelia Garcia, are now asking a judge to grant the lawsuit a class-action status and are requesting a jury trial. The complainants are also requesting that Wendy’s make it known whether or not it has "sold, leased, traded, or otherwise profited" from the employees' biometric information. That's on top of the equitable relief, litigation expenses, and attorneys' fees.
Besides Wendy's, Discovery NCR Corporation is also tagged in the complaint as it serves as the supplier of biometric clocks, point-of-sale, and cash register access systems to the restaurant chain. The plaintiffs want to know whether Discovery NCR also used the workers' fingerprints in any nefarious manner.