Illinois Supreme Court Rules WC Exclusive Remedy Provision Does Not Bar Biometric Privacy Claim
February 07, 2022
On February 3, 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provision (which ordinarily bars civil lawsuits against employers filed directly by employees) does not prohibit employees from suing their employers directly for violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). BIPA is a statute in Illinois that governs entities that collect biometric information, such as fingerprints, and it has generated substantial litigation in Illinois. In Marquita McDonald v. Bronzeville Park, LLC, the Defendant-Employer argued the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act prohibited the Plaintiff-Employee from pursuing her BIPA claim, because the Plaintiff-Employee was alleging an “accidental injury arising out of and in the course of the employment.” The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed and ruled the improper storage of biometric data (a violation of BIPA) did not represent an actual physical or psychological injury that the Workers’ Compensation Act covers. Thus, the violation was not a compensable injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Plaintiff-Employee could then therefore pursue her class action claim under BIPA directly against her employer.
This new ruling exposes employers to direct litigation from employees for violations of BIPA, which carries a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation, even for technical violations that did not result in actual harm to the plaintiff. Rachel Nevarez, a partner on Wiedner & McAuliffe’s civil litigation team, recently published an article on BIPA and the impact of this statute, which can be found here.
Our attorneys at Wiedner & McAuliffe continue to defend employers and other businesses against BIPA claims. Should you have any questions on BIPA and the impact on your business, feel free to contact Rachel Nevarez at email@example.com or any one of the attorneys at Wiedner & McAuliffe.