“Anticipating Potential Updates To Ill. Biometric Privacy Law”
Law 360 06/05/19 Gary Clark, Meghan O'Connor, Sarah Erdmann
Below is an excerpt:
In the past 18 months, more than 250 lawsuits have been filed under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. While the law had been on the books since 2008, the surge came as a result of companies adopting new workplace technologies that rely upon employee fingerprints, retina scans and other biometric identifiers for time clocks and access to restricted areas. BIPA had largely been forgotten and ignored by companies implementing these technologies, which is why there has been a flurry of “gotcha” class actions filed beginning in the fall of 2017.
In addition to a large number of companies using biometric technologies with no idea what BIPA requires, another reason for the surge in class actions filed is BIPA’s damages remedy. Plaintiffs can recover statutory damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation and $5,000 for intentional or reckless violations, plus attorney fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court. BIPA awards the $1,000 or $5,000 statutory damages penalty on an individual basis, though, meaning an employer with as few as 100 employees could sustain a verdict in excess of $500,000, and an employer with 10,000 employees could experience a verdict in the realm of $50 million.