April 29, 2021

Illinois federal court grants final approval of a $790,000 biometric privacy class settlement

On April 27, 2021, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted final approval of a settlement between class members and Superior Health Linens, LLC (SHL), a company that provides textile rental services to the healthcare industry, in which a former employee of the company alleged violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) for collecting her handprint without her consent and without implementing a biometric retention policy as required under the Act.  Under the settlement, a Settlement Fund containing $790,000 was established to cover all court fees and administrative costs, including approximately $620 for each of the 789 class members.  In addition, SHL, that chose to end the use of biometric timeclocks when the case was filed, agreed to delete all current and former employees biometric data and comply with BIPA should they ever decide to use biometric timeclocks in the future.

In February of 2019, Sonia Lopez-McNear filed suit against her former employer, SHL, for requiring her and her fellow employees to participate in a biometric timekeeping system that was intended to monitor their work hours, and required each employee to scan their hands to enroll in the employee handprint database, and regularly scan their handprints to check in to or out of work.  Lopez-McNear alleged that SHL violated section 15(b) of BIPA because the company never developed a biometric data retention policy and guidelines to determine when the biometric data would be permanently destroyed, and therefore, failed to publicly disclose its biometric data-retention policy and failed to comply with such a policy, as required under the BIPA.  Lopez-McNear further alleged that SHL violated the BIPA by failing to obtain her written informed consent before collecting, using and storing her biometric data.

The court preliminary approved the settlement agreement in January 12, 2021, and certified the class that consists of all current and former employees of SHL who used the hand-scanning timeclock at a SHL facility between February 28, 2014 and January 12, 2021.  The court also commended the parties for reaching an “exceptional settlement” that actually provided monetary relief that was favorable to individual class members as evidenced by “the complete lack of opposition” to the settlement by class members, noting that none of the 789 original class members asked to be excluded or objected to its terms.

Plaintiff’s Motion and Memo in Support of Final Approval of Class Settlement |Final Judgment and Order of Dismissal with Prejudice