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Illinois Supreme Court: Workers Comp Exclusive Remedy Provisions Don’t Apply to BIPA Claims

supreme court illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 3, that employees can seek damages under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when an employer mishandles their biometric data.

The significance of this ruling lies in the fact that it precludes a common defense that employers could use when faced with BIPA claims. These claims often arose when employers either failed to obtain an employee’s consent to collect biometric data like iris scans or fingerprints or if such data was mishandled by the employer in any way.

Previously – and as in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park, the case that spurred the ruling – employers, when sued by an employee under BIPA, would move to dismiss the lawsuit. Employers argued that the employee’s action was not valid because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (IWCA) was the exclusive vehicle for settling disputes between employers and employees.

Moving to dismiss an employee’s BIPA claim by arguing IWCA’s “exclusivity provision” often helped employers prevail in biometric data disputes with their employees. The Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling effectively removes this defense from employers’ playbooks, but newly proposed legislation may enshrine it in law.

H.B. 5396, which was filed on Jan. 28, would amend BIPA so that any action arising under it, due to an employer’s actions, would be resolved according to the state’s workers comp laws. Whether or not this bill will succeed remains to be seen, so for now, employees may be able to sue for relief under BIPA if their employers mishandle their biometric data.

If your biometric data was inappropriately used by your employer, or your employer failed to obtain your consent before collecting your biometric data, Turner Law Group can determine if you are entitled to seek damages under BIPA.

To learn more about legal options that may be available to you, contact us online now!