Illinois Appellate Court Ruling:  Workers’ Compensation Act Does Not Bar Employee BIPA Claims

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Professionals

In a recent decision, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act does not bar claims for statutory damages for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) brought by employees against their employers.  In McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC, 2020 Il App (1st) 192398 (September 17, 2020), the appellate court answered a certified question:  whether the exclusivity provisions of the Compensation Act barred employee claims for statutory damages under BIPA. The court held that the exclusivity provisions do not bar such claims.

After acknowledging that the Compensation Act generally provides the exclusive means by which an employee can recover against an employer for a work-related injury, the court held that BIPA claims fall into the exception for claims that are not compensable under the Compensation Act.  The court concluded that claims for BIPA statutory damages  – which are available without any allegation of injury – are not the type of compensable injury within the purview of the Compensation Act, a remedial statute designed to provide protection for workers that have sustained actual injury. 

Many pending BIPA class actions against employers have been stayed pending a ruling on the certified question regarding the Workers’ Compensation Act.  The ruling may be the subject of a further appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.  

If your company has questions about the interplay between BIPA and the Workers’ Compensation Act, contact us without delay because expediency will be key in minimizing potential liabilities.

Victoria Collado is a partner in the firm's Litigation Group and Co-Chair of the firm’s Class Action Defense Group.  The firm’s Class Action Practice Group has significant experience defending BIPA class actions.  For more information, please contact Victoria at vcollado@burkelaw.com or (312) 840-7048, Danielle Gould at dgould@burkelaw.com or (312) 840-7070, Andrew LeMar at alemar@burkelaw.com or (312) 840-7108,  or Brian Weinthal at bweinthal@burkelaw.com or (312) 840-7142.

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