HM In Hot Water For Allegedly Sharing Employees' Fingerprints

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 6 months ago | News

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H&M is being sued – again. But not for copyright infringement or stealing an independent artist's work. This time, the fast fashion retailer is in hot water with the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) – an Illinois state law that prohibits the unlawful collection and storing of biometric information, such as fingerprints, retina patterns, voice waves and DNA. 

Jezebel reports that the retailer has allegedly been collecting and unlawfully sharing employees' biometric data. Which forms part of a proposed class action lawsuit that was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County last year. According to this lawsuit, former H&M employee Kenyetta Slater claims that H&M “requires [its] hourly employees to scan their fingertips in its biometric time clock [when] they start working a shift, stop for lunch, return from lunch, and finish working a shift.” 

Slater worked as a business account representative for H&M from 2012 to 2017 and says the retailer “benefitted from using a biometric time clock,” in multiple ways, including ensuring that “one employee could not clock in for another.” At the same time, she alleges that H&M “placed employees at risk” because such a system presents a heightened risk of identity theft.

H&M is not the first company to be sued in connection with the BIPA – which prohibits a “private entity” from “capturing or collecting biometric identifiers from an individual unless that private entity first creates a [publicly-available] written policy”. According to BIPA, that policy must include obtaining each individual’s written consent and it must also detail how the company will collect, maintain, and ultimately destroy such identifiers.

Slater alleges that H&M failed to do either of those things and even went so far as to share its employees' biometric information with a third-party time-keeping vendor. Which is why she is seeking compensation and has asked the court to certify her class action case. If it does so, other H&M employees will be able to join the lawsuit. But the fast fashion giant has filed a motion to dismiss the case, so the case is currently ongoing in Illinois’ Cook County courts.

Via Jezebel

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