Walmart reached a $ 10 million settlement with employees in a class action lawsuit in Illinois. The lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleged the retail giant violated the state’s Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) by forcing employees to use a palm scanner without first obtaining their express written consent.
The palm scanner was used to verify and track the identity of employees checking out and returning cash drawers during their shift. Walmart stopped using the scanners on February 28, 2018, while Sam’s Club stopped using them on April 24, 2019.
The class includes all Walmart employees who used the scanners between January 28, 2014 and the end dates for the biometric identification system. It could include up to 21,677 people, each of whom would be eligible for a $ 461.32 portion of the $ 10 million settlement. However, the actual payout is likely to change based on the number of people claiming their status and any legal fees that may arise. The plaintiffs’ attorneys could receive up to a third of the $ 10 million.
Employees have 90 days to respond once notifications have been sent. According to Walmart, the Palm scan data collected with the system was deleted after the technology was no longer used.
Currently, the settlement has only received preliminary approval from the Cook County Circuit Court. Walmart is one of several large companies to face BIPA legislation, though the $ 10 million settlement pales in comparison to Facebook’s $ 650 million settlement in 2020. That settlement was reached after a judge rejected a previous settlement of $ 550 million for a class of up to 1.6 million Illinois Facebook users.
Home Depot and Macy’s are some of the other major retailers affected by BIPA lawsuits. Of these, the case of the Macy is notable as it stems from the company’s use of the controversial Clearview AI facial recognition system. Walmart used a free trial to do some searches, despite not being a paying Clearview customer and not yet having legal action taken to use the platform.
Source: Chicago Tribune
January 19, 2021 – by Eric Weiss