Midwest grocery giant, Jewel-Osco, is seeking dismissal of a potentially massive putative class-action lawsuit filed against it alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The grocery chain is accused of running afoul of the Illinois BIPA in connection with the technology used by the company to scan fingerprints of certain employees. The company has shot back against the complaint arguing that the suit should be thrown out because it is “conclusory and speculative” and is based entirely on “bald information and belief,” without hard facts.
In 2018, a former Jewel-Osco pharmacist, Gregg Bruhn, filed a putative class action lawsuit against New Albertsons Inc., the parent company of Jewel-Osco, alleging various violations of the Illinois BIPA. Albertsons operates nearly 200 stores located throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, but mostly in the Chicago area. The plaintiff was employed by Jewel-Osco from 1989 to 2018.
In his complaint, Bruhn alleges that he and other employees had to scan their fingerprints in order to gain access to the pharmacy’s computer system for more than a decade beginning in 2006 until at least 2018. Bruhn further alleges that his former employer violated the Illinois BIPA in connection with these fingerprint scans by passing his prints to out-of-state third parties and by failing to give him and the other employees notice concerning how their prints were to be used, stored, shared and ultimately destroyed. He also alleged that Jewel-Osco failed to secure the consent of the employees before acquiring their prints. Under the Illinois BIPA, an employer can be found liable and made to pay damages for each time an employee scanned their fingerprints when verifying their identity. He is seeking to represent both himself and a class of similarly situated employees and has requested as much as $5,000 in statutory damages per violation, per employee. Continue reading ›