Biometric Suit Not Preempted by Workers’ Compensation Statute

An Illinois employee of Power Solutions International Inc. (Power Solutions) filed suit against his employer alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when Power Solutions collected his fingerprints through a timekeeping system without providing consent to do so. Under BIPA, companies, including employers, are required to provide notice and consent to employees prior to the collection of biometric information such as fingerprints, on how the biometric information will be collected and used, who it is disclosed to and how and when it will be deleted.

According to the employee’s proposed class action lawsuit, Power Solutions failed to provide him notice and to obtain his consent prior to requiring him to use his fingerprint to clock in and out of the workplace. Power Solutions replied by filing a Motion to Dismiss alleging that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act preempted BIPA and provided the employees with his sole remedy against the company.

This week, a federal district court in Illinois denied Power Solutions’ Motion to Dismiss, holding that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act did not preempt BIPA as the worker’s sole remedy because the worker properly alleged that Power Solutions was acting intentionally when it collected the biometric information.

According to the Court, the alleged injuries sustained by the worker are not accidental or compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, as the injuries are not physical or psychological, and the worker had “plausibly” claimed that Power Solutions acted intentionally when it collected and used the worker’s fingerprints.

Power Solutions’ argument that the Worker’s Compensation Act was the worker’s sole remedy against it for a workplace injury was a novel one that the Court did not buy.

This article was first published by The National Law Review.

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