A Cook County judge recently granted final approval to a $25 million class-action settlement to end a sweeping class-action lawsuit accusing well-known HR technology and service company, ADP, of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) in the way it supplied equipment and support to employers requiring employees to scan their fingerprints when punching the clock at work.
According to class counsel, more than 40,000 people filed claims under the settlement. According to the terms of the settlement, these individuals will receive a prorated portion of the settlement fund equal to about $375 each. The judge approved an award of $8.75 million in attorney’s fees for class counsel or one-third of the total settlement funds.
The litigation resulting in this settlement dates back to 2017 when the first lawsuit was filed against ADP. In 2018, two additional class-action lawsuits were filed against ADP, all centered on nearly identical allegations. The three cases were eventually consolidated into one proceeding before Judge Atkins prior to the settlement.
The lawsuits all accused ADP of allegedly failing to obtain written authorization from the employees working for ADP’s clients before those employer clients required their employees to clock in and out of their shifts by scanning their fingerprints on so-called biometric timeclocks. The lawsuits also accused ADP of failing to provide legal notice to the employees using these biometric timeclocks detailing how ADP would store, share and ultimately destroy the scanned biometric identifiers. The lawsuits sought statutory damages of $1,000-$5,000 per violation. With thousands of employees using ADP-provided devices and recent interpretations of the law finding each time a worker scanned their fingerprints constituted a separate violation, ADP faced a potential judgment of hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. The court initially dismissed the claims back in 2019, but the judge allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint.
The Illinois BIPA was enacted in 2008 to help regulate the collection, use, safeguarding, handling, storage, retention, and destruction of biometric information. The BIPA defines biometric information as information based on “biometric identifiers” used to identify a person. The statute further defines the term “biometric identifier” as “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry.” Violations of the law comes with potentially steep penalties with the law providing for statutory damages of $1,000 per negligent violation and up to $5,000 for intentional violations.
As we have previously detailed, BIPA lawsuits, and particularly class action lawsuits, have been steadily on the rise over the past few years. A large majority of these lawsuits have targeted employers directly for alleged BIPA violations related to their use of technology that collects or relies on employees’ biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, hand print, or facial geometry. Recently, HR technology and timekeeping companies have become the targets of a number of these class action suits. Late last year, ADP-rival NovaTime settled a similar lawsuit for approximately $14 million. A federal judge preliminarily approved that settlement.
ADP agreed with the plaintiffs to mediate the case in the summer of 2020, where the parties reached their $25 million agreement. The judge overseeing the case preliminarily approved that settlement in November 2020.
The court’s order granting final approval of the settlement is available here.
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