Q: I am employed as a service technician at a large apartment house project.
After a tenant reported something missing, my employer insisted that I have my fingerprints taken.
Can my employer legally require me to give up my "prints" under these circumstances?
--D.D., Eagle Rock
A: An employer can require a job applicant or employee to provide fingerprints and photographs. There are some businesses, such as armored car and security firms, that are even required to obtain employee fingerprints.
In your line of work as a service technician, your employer is not required to obtain your fingerprints. If you are fingerprinted, the employer is prohibited by law from furnishing the prints (or photographs) to any other employer or a third party if they can be used to your detriment. If the employer does provide them to another party, the employer could be guilty of a criminal misdemeanor and be sued by you for treble damages.
In your case, it appears there is a justifiable reason for your employer to ask for your fingerprints. If they determine that you are guilty of theft, they could file a complaint with the police department, which could obtain its own set of your fingerprints.
--Don D. Sessions
Employee rights attorney