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Podcast: Why Biometrics in the Workplace Is a Growing Issue

A growing number of companies are turning to technology to keep track of employee biometric data, such as fingerprints. But the use of this data is also creating a host of privacy issues.

On this podcast, Chicago employment attorney Greg Abrams, of Faegre Baker Daniels, and Kate Bischoff, who runs the Minneapolis-based tHRrive Law and Consulting, join XpertHR Legal Editor David Weisenfeld for a deep dive into employer biometrics use and how it is leading to increased litigation and concerns.

Abrams discusses the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment, which essentially gave the green light to consumers to sue companies for collecting biometric data if they fail to tell them how the information will be used. He notes that the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act goes beyond other states in authorizing lawsuits for damages.

Bischoff expresses concern about Amazon's idea for employee-tracking wearables to scan for employee productivity and how it might affect morale. "When you're using something like a Fitbit to monitor employee productivity, employees are going to become scared," said Bischoff. "That kind of monitoring increases worker anxiety, and they get worried if they fall behind if they are going to lose their job."

In her work, Bischoff added that privacy is becoming a bigger concern on behalf of employees with the growing digitization of what people do. Abrams concluded by saying, "There is no prohibition on using biometric information. The prohibition is on doing so when the proper steps are not followed."

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Additional Resources

Novel Biometrics Ruling Could Open Door to Lawsuits in Illinois