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The Challenges of "Scanning" In and Out

As technology advances, so do the means by which employers manage their employees, including such non-glamorous tasks as tracking employee time. Some users have begun using biometric scanning technology (i.e., devices that utilize fingerprints, handprints, retinal data, or face-recognition technology) to track employee hours. But this technology is giving some employers headaches and leading to new types of lawsuits.

For example, employees in Illinois have brought class action lawsuits against employers that use biometric scanning technology under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires employers to take certain measures to safeguard the privacy of employee biometric data collected in the course of their employment. The Act also contains a number of notice and procedural requirements such as informing employees in writing regarding the purposes for which their information is being collected and used and the length of time for which their biometric information will be stored, and securing a written release prior to collecting their biometric information.

Accordingly, employers should consider adopting employment policies describing the company’s stance on this issue and make sure that employees are aware of, and understand, those policies. For employers with employees in Illinois, Washington, or Texas, the policies need to comply with the laws in place in those states. Finally, employers should make a legal risk assessment that considers the ability of the employer to comply with these laws and protect employee information in light of the benefits of new technology.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.