Employee Privacy Violations Alleged in Class Action Against Intercontinental Hotel Group

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Santa Clara, CA: The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) is facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging violations of Illinois state privacy laws. The lawsuit is brought by employees who claim the hotel chain unlawfully collected information including employee fingerprint and other “biometric” data.

IHG includes the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Kimpton Hotels brands, among others. The lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Eric Zepeda, is filed against IHG and its subsidiary, the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group. Zepeda alleges that the defendants, which employs hundreds of people in Illinois, have violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA.)

According to the lawsuit, Zepeda is an Illinois resident who “has worked at one of (IHG’s) hotels in the Chicago area.” The complaint alleges that in 2014, IHG and Kimpton changed their worker time keeping systems from one involving identification cards and punch codes, to a system requiring employees to scan their fingerprints as a means of logging in at the beginning of their shifts, and logging out for required breaks and at the end of their shifts.

Therefore, the lawsuit claims, IHG and Kimpton have violated the Illinois BIPA law, which governs how people and organizations can obtain and use certain biometric identifiers, including fingerprints, facial scans and more, since 2014.

“Defendants’ new system ensures that workers can only verify their attendance and timeliness through scanning their fingerprints,” the lawsuit states. Zepeda claims IHG never properly obtained its employees’ consents to obtain and use their fingerprints, as required by BIPA. Further, IHG failed to disclose to employees how their fingerprints would be stored or used, whether and how the information would be shared with third party vendors and others, or how the company planned to ultimately dispose of the biometric information.

“To this day, Plaintiff (Zepeda) is unaware of the status of his biometric data and biometric information that was obtained by Defendants,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants have not informed Plaintiff whether they still retain his information, and if they do, for how long they intend to retain it without his consent.”

The proposed class action seeks to expand so that it can include potentially “hundreds, if not thousands” of other plaintiff class members, including any IHG and Kimpton employees “whose biometrics were captured, obtained, stored or used by (IHG and Kimpton) within the state of Illinois any time within the applicable limitations period.”

Zepeda is represented in the action by attorneys Evan M. Meyers, David L. Gerbie and William P. Kingston, of the McGuire Law P.C., of Chicago.

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