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Law firm rolls out BIPA sub-practice to focus on Illinois’ biometric privacy law claims

Law firm rolls out BIPA sub-practice to focus on Illinois’ biometric privacy law claims

Lewis Brisbois has formed a new BIPA sub-practice within its Labor and Employment Practice that will focus on claims relating to the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. The new group will be chaired by Chicago Partners Josh M. Kantrow and Mary A. Smigielski, who have extensive experience counseling and litigating under BIPA.

Following the January Illinois Supreme Court decision that drastically reduced the harm threshold required for an individual to bring suit under BIPA, the law firm expects an uptick in this type of litigation to be brought against companies that collect or use biometric information in Illinois.

According to a firm announcement, “Lewis Brisbois’ new BIPA team is at the cutting-edge of defense in the recent wave of class action litigation being brought against Illinois employers and other groups under the Act, and they recognize the difficult challenges that the Rosenbach decision raises for organizations, both in terms of compliance with the Act and in avoiding costly violations.”

In a recent DataGuidance report Smigielski explained how the Rosenbach decision “changes the landscape of BIPA litigation. With this ruling, a mere technical violation of BIPA is sufficient to have a right of action under the same.” She added that “the consequences of non-compliance [for businesses] are potentially staggering because BIPA provides for $1,000 for each negligent violation and $5,000 for each intentional violation.”

Between the precedence setting State Supreme Court ruling, and recent claims from an insurance company that it is not liable to cover BIPA damages, businesses operating in Illinois would be well advised to make sure they have met the law’s statutory requirements.

Another class action BIPA lawsuit filed

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Cook County Circuit Court by an employee of Wound Care Solutions Inc. who alleges the medical supply company violated workers’ rights under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by requiring employees to use their fingerprints to clock in and out of its biometric time and attendance system, the Cook County Record reports.

Eric Zepeda filed the complaint individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals on Feb. 6.

According to the complaint, Zepeda claims the defendant required him and the class of employees to have their hands scanned each time they clocked in or out of work and that the defendant did not inform him and others in writing that their biometrics were being collected, stored, used or disseminated, nor did defendant publish any policy specifically about how the biometric information would be destroyed.

The plaintiff alleges he has experienced mental anguish, anxiety and other injury when he thinks about the status of his biometrics and who has, or could have, access to such private information. He has requested a trial by jury and seeks judgment for injunctive and equitable relief, award of statutory damage, attorneys’ fees, costs, pre and post-judgment interest, and such further and other relief.

A similar class action lawsuit filed in January accused Swissport USA of failing to meet BIPA requirements for informed consent relating to its fingerprint time and attendance systems.

In both cases the defendants could face damages of $1,000-$5,0000 per violation, which, according to the Cook County Record report, is considered by the law to be each time an employee used the biometric time clock.

A recently dismissed lawsuit filed against Google under BIPA has been given new life by the January ruling on the definition of harm, and is being revived in both state and appellate courts.

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