A federal court judge has approved a nearly $1 million biometric privacy lawsuit settlement, ending a proposed class action lawsuit against Lifespace Communities over its fingerprint time clock system.
The West Des Moines, IA-based continuing care retirement community owner and operator was accused of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The suit, filed last June in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by a former nursing assistant, accused the company of violating BIPA’s requirements by unlawfully requiring employees to scan their fingerprints to track their work hours. The suit stated the company did not obtain informed consent from employees, did not disclose its data collection intentions and did not inform workers that it was sharing their information with third parties.
U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah entered his final approval last week for the $987,850 settlement between Lifespace Communities and more than 850 current and former employees. The judge also approved almost $329,000 for attorney fees, according to Bloomberg Law.
Illinois adopted the biometrics law in 2008, the first of its kind, to regulate the collection use, storage, retention and destruction of biometric identifiers and information, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, face geometry scans, or eye or hand scans.
A Lifespace Communities spokesperson previously told McKnight’s Senior Living that the company “strives to protect the privacy and safety of all of its employees nationwide, including in Illinois.”
“This is why Lifespace implemented a policy that is compliant with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act years ago, which requires the employee be informed of the policy and written consent before any employee is enrolled into their timeclock devices,” the spokesperson said. “Lifespace continues to enforce that policy to this day and continues to look for ways to improve its systems, policies and safety protocols for the betterment of its employees for the future.”
According to the settlement agreement, the company agreed to the $988,000 settlement fund and agreed to provide information detailing when it implemented a biometric policy and the use of a consent form to obtain permission from employees.
Brookdale Senior Living, Capital Senior Living, Senior Lifestyle Corp., Smith Senior Living and Sunrise Senior Living all faced similar class action lawsuits. All of the senior living operators were accused of violating the Illinois BIPA in requiring employees to submit to fingerprint scans to clock in and out of work.