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Fingerprint Time Clocks Pose Potential Problems for Employers

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Fingerprint Time Clocks Pose Potential Problems for Employers

Biometric information is becoming more prevalent in our society, from fingerprints that unlock cellphones to facial recognition programs that identify individuals in pictures based upon their facial features. Some Illinois employers are even utilizing technology such as time clocks that utilize and store biometric data such as fingerprints from employees. While some business owners may feel this technological advance prevents employees from being paid for time they do not actually work (as other employees will not be able to clock absent or tardy employees into work), these devices are also proving to be troublesome for employers due to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

A Brief Overview of BIPA and Problems It Poses for Employers

Passed in 2008, Illinois’ BIPA is one of the most stringent laws in the country requiring private companies, agencies, and other entities to obtain consent from individuals prior to collecting or storing biometric data like fingerprints and iris scans. BIPA will also control the content and timing of notices that must be given to individuals whose biometric data has been collected and/or is being stored. The BIPA allows aggrieved individuals whose biometric data is collected, stored, and/or disseminated in violation of BIPA to collect up to $5,000 per incident (less if the BIPA violation was not intentional).

Some employers in Illinois have been sued under BIPA by employees claiming their fingerprints were obtained and/or stored in violation of BIPA’s requirements. More specifically, these employees claim that their employers collected their fingerprint data for use in their employers’ time clocks without telling the employees that such data would be collected and/or how it would be used and stored.

Contact Your Illinois Employment Law Firm Today

While this development should not discourage employers from looking for ways to enhance the efficiency of their businesses and promote greater accountability amongst their workers, this story should give employers pause and encourage them to seek legal counsel from an experienced and knowledgeable Illinois employment law attorney before enacting such drastic changes. Doing so can help ensure your new idea does not cause unintended consequences for you and your business.

If you are struggling with an employment law issue that is plaguing your Illinois business, contact Goldman & Ehrlich as soon as possible for help. Call us at 312-332-6733 or complete our online contact form.

You’ve Been Fired – What You Need to Know if You Were Terminated Unlawfully

Being unexpectedly terminated from your employment can be a disrupting experience – especially when it comes with little or no warning. It can also be particularly troubling if you believe that you were terminated on account of your race, ethnicity, religion, or any other protected classification or characteristic. While Illinois is an at-will employment state and either you or your employer may terminate your employment without giving notice and/or reason, an employer cannot terminate your employment for a discriminatory reason and attempt to hide behind the at-will employment laws. When your employment is terminated in contravention of the law, you are said to be the victim of a wrongful termination.

What if I Believe I Am Being Wrongfully Terminated?

If you find yourself called into your supervisor’s office and believe you are about to be terminated for an unlawful or discriminatory reason, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Making a scene, threatening your supervisor, or engaging in aggressive conduct will rarely accomplish anything and may give the employer an excuse to terminate you. In certain circumstances, such behavior may even result in you being charged with a criminal offense. Instead, attempt to remain as calm as possible and pay attention to all the details and things that are said during the termination process.
  2. Beware of violating Illinois’ eavesdropping law. Resist the temptation to immediately pull out your smartphone and begin recording the incident. If the conversation is taking place in a private location (such as your employer’s office) and all those present do not consent to the conversation being recorded, you may violate the law if you film or record the conversation anyway. But you can and should write a detailed summary of everything that was said as soon as possible while it is still fresh in your memory.
  3. Try to obtain specifics from your employer. If your employer offers you an opportunity to ask questions during the termination process, attempt to obtain the reason or reasons why your employer is terminating your employment. This can be helpful if your employer later attempts to justify your termination on other grounds.       If you have clear evidence that a stated reason is false, you can calmly explain why the reason is not accurate. E.g. showing your phone log to prove you did call in sick if they claim there was a no call no show.
  4. Take detailed notes about the termination and the circumstances surrounding your termination as soon as possible. Write down who was present at your termination and whether any reason was provided to you about why you were being terminated.

What To Do With Your Information

Take your information and visit with the experienced Illinois wrongful termination lawyers at Goldman & Ehrlich as soon as possible. We will assist you by evaluating the facts of your case and helping you understand what rights and legal options you may have. Contact our firm at 312-332-6733 or contact us through our website.

Strategies to Protect Your Business from Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

Terminating an employee creates a risk that the employee may file wrongful termination lawsuits if their employment with a company unexpectedly and unwillingly comes to an end. Even though Illinois is considered an “at-will” employment state, this does not mean that Illinois employers can terminate their employees for any reason at all. Specifically, terminating an employee because of the employee’s disability, sex, pregnancy, race, or any other “protected” classification can lead to expensive and time-consuming litigation for the employer.

The Ease with Which Wrongful Termination Lawsuits Can Arise

While an employer may believe there are strong reasons for terminating an employee, an outside observer may believe the situation is as clear-cut. For example, you may believe you are terminating a female employee for chronic absenteeism, but the employee (and others) may reasonably believe it was due to the employee’s pregnancy. Similarly, an employee may produce far fewer results than his peers, but it may appear to others that his termination is due to his age, not his productivity.

No employer can eliminate the risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit, but there are steps you can take to help minimize the likelihood of a successful wrongful termination lawsuit from disrupting your business operations:

  1. Create written policies and distribute them to your employees: Whether your business is big or small, you, your employees, and your operations can all benefit from written employee conduct and performance expectations. Once these are created, be certain to distribute them to your employees to read. Consider having your employees sign a form indicating that they have read your policy manual and understand it.
  2. Enforce your policies fairly and consistently: When you discipline one employee differently than another when both employees have violated the same policy, a court or other observer will question your true motivation for disciplining the one employee while not disciplining the other. Eliminate this potential pitfall by simply enforcing your written policies in a consistent manner.
  3. Keep records of employee disciplinary issues. It is much easier to justify terminating an employee for excessive absenteeism or poor productivity (for example) if you maintain records about prior talks or disciplinary actions you have had with the employee about their violations of company policies. These notes should be completed as soon as possible following the disciplinary talk or act and remain part of the employee’s file.

When You Are Served with a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit, Seek Help

The experienced Illinois employment law firm of Goldman & Ehrlich can help you and your business successfully navigate a wrongful termination lawsuit. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your lawsuit by calling 312-332-6733 or by completing our firm’s online contact form.