Walmart has reached a $10 million settlement with employees in a class action lawsuit in Illinois. The lawsuit was filed in 2019, and alleged that the retail giant violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when it forced employees to use a palm scanner without first obtaining their express written consent.
The palm scanner was used to verify and track the identities of employees checking out and returning cash register drawers during their shifts. Walmart stopped using the scanners on February 28, 2018, while Sam’s Club stopped using them on April 24, 2019.
The class covers every Walmart employee that used the scanners between January 28, 2014, and the end dates for the biometric identification system. It could include as many as 21,677 people, each of which would be entitled to a $461.32 share of the $10 million settlement. However, the actual payout is likely to change based on the number of people who claim their status, and on the eventual attorney fees. The lawyers for the plaintiffs could receive up to a third of the $10 million.
Employees will have 90 days to respond once notifications have been sent out. According to Walmart, the palm scan data collected with the system was deleted after it stopped using the technology.
At the moment, the settlement has only received preliminary approval from the Cook County Circuit Court. Walmart is one of several major corporations facing BIPA legislation, though its $10 million settlement pales in comparison to Facebook’s $650 million settlement in 2020. That settlement was reached after a judge rejected an earlier $550 million agreement, for a class that included as many as 1.6 million Illinois Facebook users.
Home Depot and Macy’s are some of the other major retailers that have been hit with BIPA lawsuits. Of those, the Macy’s case is noteworthy because it stems from the company’s use of Clearview AI’s controversial facial recognition system. Walmart took advantage of a free trial to conduct a few searches, though it was not a paying Clearview customer and is yet to face any legal action for its use of the platform.
Source: Chicago Tribune
January 19, 2021 – by Eric Weiss