I’ve kept this blog going for over ten years because I like helping the general public get educated on Illinois workers’ compensation laws. One thing I try to do is not give cookie cutter posts, but instead raise issues that affect real people, even if they aren’t what most readers are thinking about. Sometimes you don’t know your rights until you are alerted to them.
So today I want to write about the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) and what it has to do with work comp.
But first, what is BIPA? Basically in the last decade or so, many companies have had employees punch in to work with fingerprints, eye scans, facial recognition or other biometric ways that were unheard of a short time ago. In response, the State passed a law that says you can do this, but you have to follow rules for safeguarding, storing and destroying this information. Your biometric data is unique and if someone who had bad intentions got a hold of it, they could financially ruin you. Companies also have to make disclosures to employees about this practice and get written consent for it. If they violate any part of the BIPA Act, you can sue.
I bring this up because under something called the exclusive remedy provision, you are usually barred from suing your employer for negligence. So when a company called Power Solutions International was sued by an employee for violating BIPA, they tried to have the case thrown out.
The worker won the case because you are only barred from suing your employer for negligence for unintentional acts. If you are walking the factory floor and a co-worker hits you with a forklift, it likely wasn’t on purpose. So even if that person had no license or training, suing for negligence would not go anywhere.
With BIPA though, failure to follow notice requirements or other parts of the law is intentional, no accidental. You also aren’t talking about physical injuries, but instead financial ones and a denial to control your own body.
So while an employer tried to use the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act to get around violating the law, in the end common sense prevailed and they lost.
There are a lot of Illinois companies who are violating this law, toward their customers and workers. We are for work comp only, but work with labor attorneys who have had incredible success with these cases. One firm we know and recommend was able to settle over $60 million for violations in just a couple of months.
So if you feel your data rights may have been violated, call us at 312-346-5320 and we will refer you to a firm that can help you. With these cases there is never a fee unless you are successful.