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Protecting employee privacy rights in the technological age

The vast majority of Americans place a significant value on their privacy. This value extends to many spheres of life: including privacy at home, online privacy and privacy at work, to name a few.

The issue of privacy at work becomes more challenging to maintain in the era of biometric information. Since the regular use of biometric information is relatively new outside of criminal investigations, the law has work to do in order to catch up and provide clarity in this emerging area of law.

A Recent Illinois Lawsuit

According to an article in, employees are bringing a lawsuit against their employer Roundy's Supermarkets, Inc. The allegations claim that the supermarket chain’s practice of taking employee’s fingerprints is in violation of Illinois law.

The specific law involved is the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which places strict regulations on employers obtaining and keeping biometric information such as fingerprints, DNA and the like.

The Potential Impact of this Case

There are numerous problems with biometric information being obtained and held by employers. In addition to the possibility of discrimination based on genetic information, the article points out the problem of security. With HR departments holding self-identifying information for countless employees, without adequate security to prevent highly ambitious thieves from targeting this information, the potential problems are obvious.

We will watch this case with great interest. With the extraordinary importance of protecting the privacy rights of employees, this case could have profound impact on the emerging state of law in this area.

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