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How Biometric Data Could Affect Your Employment Case

Published June 1, 2023 by Apoorva Chauhan
How Biometric Data Could Affect Your Employment Case

There was a time when using biometric data, such as retinal scans or facial recognition technology, seemed like something you’d only see in a sci-fi movie. Fast forward to today, and businesses are collecting biometric information that can control everything from access to your iPhone to tracking time and attendance at work. While biometrics can play a key role in protecting confidential information, is there a point when an employer might overstep their boundaries? Many states, including Tennessee, are grappling with balancing a company’s right to collect data while respecting an individual’s right to privacy. 

Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill called the Consumer Biometric Data Protection Act, which would require private entities (such as employers) to follow strict guidelines on how biometric information is collected, stored, protected, used, and ultimately destroyed. It would also require companies to get consent from employees and establish written policies over their use of biometrics at work. The Act also allows individuals to take legal action and demand compensation for violations. 

What is Biometric Data?

Biometrics are the unique physical information that identifies you. Fingerprints, palm prints, voice recordings, eye scans, and facial recognition technology are examples of biometric data. Security experts say biometric data may be better than passwords at protecting sensitive information.

You’re likely already using biometrics. You use it every time you scan your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone. Some airlines use face recognition to expedite security checks at airports. Siri, Alexa, and other home assistants employ voice recognition as a biometric identifier. 

One of the most common ways people see biometrics used in the workplace is through timekeeping and attendance records. Instead of punching in and out on a time clock, biometric timekeeping systems use eye, face, or fingerprint technology to track hours worked. Biometric data may also control access to building or storage rooms, computers, or machinery at work. 

Employee Rights and Biometric Data

Balancing the employer’s right to collect and use biometric data versus individual privacy is an emerging area of the law. Some states, like Illinois, have seen a rise in class-action litigation stemming from company non-compliance with its comprehensive Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Tennessee’s proposed law is similar to BIPA, allowing people to pursue thousands of dollars in damages per violation, including attorney’s fees and court costs.

If your employer used biometric data without your consent, seek guidance from an employment lawyer about your legal rights in Tennessee. 

Get Help from an Employment Attorney Today

Do you believe your privacy rights were violated at work? Get advice from an experienced attorney at The Employment and Consumer Law Group. State and federal labor laws protect you from employer misconduct. A Nashville employment lawyer from our firm can enforce your rights so that you receive fair treatment and compensation if you have been wronged. If you have questions about your rights as an employee, contact us for a free consultation. 

 

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