H&M Is Being Sued for Keeping Track of Employees Using Their Fingerprints

Illustration for article titled HM Is Being Sued for Keeping Track of Employees Using Their Fingerprints
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H&M is being sued for some bizarre hour-clocking practices that involve collecting employee finger prints.

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The Fashion Law reports that under Illinois state law H&M is being sued for violating the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) which prohibits the unlawful collection and storing of biometric information, i.e. fingerprints, retina patterns, DNA. Basically, all the creepy stuff you definitely don’t want your employer tracking!

The class action lawsuit, brought forth by former H&M employee Kenyetta Slater, asserts that H&M kept track of individual employee hours using their fingerprints in a “biometric time clock,” such as when they start and finish a shift or when they go to lunch. Naturally, since H&M was allegedly using fingerprints, employees could not clock out for each other. The lawsuit states that under the BIPA this collection is illegal unless the company got written consent from employees and has a policy explaining how it will “collect, maintain, and ultimately destroy such identifiers.”

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Now Slater is looking to get her class action lawsuit certified so that other employees can join and receive compensation for the company’s “negligent” behavior. The Fashion Law reports that H&M tried to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis that they do ask employees to consent to the system (which, yikes, confirms it exists!) and that the company doesn’t store the data anyway.

“Biometric time-keeping” is creepy and a messed up standard to set for companies. It treats employees like cattle who must be tagged and assumes that workers are incapable of honesty when it comes to logging their working hours. Not to mention, as this lawsuit claims, that wealth of data puts employees at risk for identify theft and can be abused if shared with third-party companies without their consent.

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

I do data privacy law, and have been tracking these BIPA cases being filed for the last few weeks. These are only in Illinois, since it’s a state law, and by my count 26 of these cases have been filed against various companies just since March 26th. This is going to be a big thing. I have a list of earlier ones filed, but it’s 52 pages long and i’m not counting all of those.