Law firm adds more biometric privacy litigators to address uptick in Illinois BIPA lawsuits
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a U.S. law firm with twelve offices in the United States and London, this week announced the addition of new Partner Melissa Siebert and Of Counsel Erin Bolan Hines to the firm’s Business Litigation, Employment and Privacy and Data Security Practices, where they will defend clients against class actions alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
Law firms are expecting an increase in this type of litigation following the January Illinois Supreme Court decision that drastically reduced the harm threshold required for an individual to bring suit under BIPA.
Siebert and Hines will provide Shook’s health, science and technology clients with 360-degree counseling. Siebert focuses on BIPA matters, complex employment litigation and counseling, while Hines provides strategic guidance in complex commercial disputes, BIPA lawsuits and data privacy issues.
“We have worked with Shook for many years on creative challenges to these BIPA lawsuits,” said Siebert, who has built her practice around previous roles as in-house counsel and director of human resources for multiple organizations.
According to the announcement, Siebert and Hines have handled more than 20 BIPA matters in Illinois State and federal courts since 2017. The pair will be joining Shook’s Business Litigation Practice led by Gary Miller and Michael Cargnel and collaborate closely with Shook’s Privacy and Data Security Practice Chair Al Saikali.
“We are excited to welcome Melissa and Erin to Shook’s deep bench of biometric privacy litigators and counselors,” stated Saikali. “With the addition of their experience, our combined practice has managed more than two dozen of the 150-plus BIPA class actions that have been filed to date and more than any other defense firm in the country.”
Earlier this month Lewis Brisbois announced the formation of a new BIPA sub-practice within its Labor and Employment Practice that will also focus on claims relating to the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.
New BIPA lawsuit over biometric time and attendance system
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Highland Baking Co., alleging the company violated their workers’ rights under Illinois law by making them scan their fingerprints to punch in and out of work shifts, and also shorted them overtime pay, Cook County Record reports.
The complaint was filed on February 15 in Cook County Circuit Court by Teodoro Ontiveros, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, against Highland Baking, alleging the company violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law. The plaintiff claims the defendant collects their biometric identifiers and biometric information through its timekeeping system without a written release, allowing Highland Baking Co. to collect or store their fingerprint and/or handprint.
In each case the defendants could face damages of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, which is considered by the law to be each time an employee used the biometric time clock.
In January an insurance company asked an Illinois state judge to declare it not responsible for covering a grocery store chain accused of violating state biometrics laws.