Seventh Circuit Agrees BIPA Claims Preempted by Labor Laws

After just six days, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit panel ruled a Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) dispute did not belong in court because the issue is preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). The appeals court dismissed the five claims brought by workers who asserted their fingerprints were taken without consent in violation of BIPA.
The panel dismissed the lawsuit stating the issue “implicates collective bargaining agreements between the company and the union that represented the workers.” The highly watched decision is expected to potentially impact other similar cases in Illinois state court.

“If labor and management want to bargain collectively about particular working conditions, they are free to do so,” the panel said. “Workers cannot insist that management bypass the union and deal with them directly about these subjects.”

In 2019, the Seventh Circuit ruled in a similar way about the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) in Miller v. Southwest Airlines after the Supreme Court held the RLA and LMRA statutes “are comparable.”

The Shook team consisted of Erin Hines, of counsel, who argued the case before the Seventh Circuit, and Partner Matt Wolfe and Associate Katie Jackson.  

Law360 wrote about the ruling in 7th Circ. Won’t Revive Workers’ Biometric Privacy Suit.

The case is Maximo Fernandez v. Kerry Inc., No. 21-1067 (USCA, 7th Circuit).