A federal district court in Chicago, Illinois, has entered a judgment on a jury verdict awarding $228 million in damages to 45,600 drivers in a class action against the freight train company BNSF Railway, for collecting their fingerprints without their prior consent.
The truck drivers alleged that BNSF violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), by requiring them to scan their fingerprints when picking up and dropping off cargo at the company’s facilities in Illinois, without obtaining their informed consent. The court’s judgment awards each driver $5,000, the maximum amount that can be awarded under BIPA.
BIPA requires companies to obtain written consent before collecting any biometric data. Notably, in 2020 Facebook was required to pay over half a billion dollars in a settlement, after it was also sued in a class action lawsuit for violating BIPA when it encouraged its users to tag people’s photos with their names.