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Caterpillar Faces Worker Biometric Privacy Lawsuit

Nov. 4, 2019, 10:02 PM

Caterpillar Inc. is accused in a class action complaint of violating Illinois’ biometric privacy law.

Plaintiff Annastasia Rodriguez alleges in the putative class complaint that the construction equipment manufacturer scanned and retained workers’ fingerprints without informed consent in Illinois, violating the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The lawsuit highlights the risk that companies, particularly employers that use biometric timekeeping systems to track workers’ hours, can face under the Illinois law.

Caterpillar allegedly required Rodriguez to use a fingerprint timekeeping system to clock in and out of a shift, or for meal breaks and rests, but didn’t inform of the specific purposes or length of time for which it collected, stored, or used the fingerprints, according to the complaint.

The company allegedly didn’t get a written release authorizing the collection or disclosure of the fingerprint scans and doesn’t make publicly available a biometric data retention policy, Rodriguez said in the complaint.

Rodriguez worked at a Caterpillar manufacturing facility in Illinois from December 2016 to November 2017 under an agreement between Caterpillar and Vonachen Services Inc., which is named as the Respondent in Discovery, according to the complaint.

Cause of Action: Violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Relief Requested: Injunctive relief, statutory damages, attorneys’ costs

Response: Caterpillar and Vonachen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attorneys: Keller Lenkner LLC represents Rodriguez and the putative class.

The case is Rodriguez v. Caterpillar Inc., Ill. Cir. Ct., No. 2019-CH-12773, complaint filed 11/1/19

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Merken in Washington at smerken@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Melissa B. Robinson at mrobinson@bloomberglaw.com, Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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