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Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Class Certification on Behalf of Employees in BIPA Lawsuit

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On June 20, 2024, the Illinois Appellate Court issued an opinion affirming a circuit court’s order granting class certification to current and former employees of Admiral at the Lake, a senior living facility in Chicago. The plaintiffs alleged that Admiral violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq. (“BIPA”) when it required its employees to use UltiPro Touchbase, a timekeeping system that collected and analyzed facial geometry. UltiPro collected and analyzed the information without the employees’ knowledge nor consent and without a policy for deletion. Employees were required to scan their faces at the beginning and end of every shift and before and after taking breaks. Admiral used the scans for comparison purposes, but did not inform its employees of the purpose for the scans, how long the data was stored, nor when Admiral would permanently delete the data.

On a motion for class certification, the circuit court found that the plaintiff satisfied all four Section 2-801 class certification requirements. The circuit court also rejected Admiral’s various merit-based arguments because such arguments were inappropriate at the class certification stage.

Admiral appealed the circuit court’s order granting class certification on the basis that the lead plaintiff had no claim for violating BIPA, that class members’ damages were individualized, and that the lead plaintiff was an inadequate class representative. The Illinois Appellate Court disagreed with Admiral, finding that Admiral’s merits-based arguments were inappropriate at the class certification stage, that the class members’ damagers were statutory and thus not individualized, and that the lead plaintiff was an adequate representative.

Notably, rather than filing its own dispositive motions, such as a motion for summary judgment, Admiral responded to the plaintiff’s motion for class certification with arguments discussing the merits of the case. The circuit court properly assumed the merits of the plaintiff’s underlying claims when evaluating the motion for class certification.

Significant in Illinois civil procedure in the class action context, the Illinois Appellate Court provided clear guidance for evaluating motions for class certification by rejecting the defendant’s position that conflated class certification standards with summary judgment standards.

The case is Bayeg v. The Admiral at the Lake, 2024 IL App (1st) 231141.

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