Melissa concentrates her practice in complex class action litigation. She leads Shook’s Biometric Privacy Practice, defending technology providers and employers in more than 75 BIPA class actions pending in federal and state courts. Melissa’s experience handling Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) cases has made her one of the leading lawyers in the rapidly developing area of biometric privacy. She oversees a team of more than 20 legal professionals organized into five subteams, each dedicated to various aspects of biometric privacy litigation.

Under Melissa’s leadership, Shook’s Biometric Privacy Practice has achieved groundbreaking BIPA wins, including:

  • In an appeal before the Seventh Circuit, won a groundbreaking ruling when the Court held that disputes under BIPA regarding the use of finger-scan timekeeping technology are preempted by the federal Railway Labor Act when such disputes involve unionized employees, setting the standard for BIPA-related labor law preemption defenses.
  • Won dismissal of a putative FLSA collective action brought by airline employees pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, when a federal court held that the plaintiffs must individually arbitrate wage claims because they were not “transportation workers.” This ruling is currently on appeal and may serve to set the Seventh Circuit’s standard on this issue following the Supreme Court’s recent Olivera v. New Prime decision.
  • Obtained dismissal of BIPA complaint regarding a hospital’s use of fingerprint s scan technology to access prescription drugs, the first successful application of BIPA’s HIPAA exclusion.

In addition to her biometric data privacy practice, Melissa has substantial experience representing employers in labor matters as both in-house and outside counsel. She has significant experience in class action and complex litigation, including FLSA and wage/hour class actions and EEOC “pattern and practice” investigations and lawsuits. Her combined legal, human resources and business experience allows her to provide effective and efficient counsel on a variety of strategic and day-to-day issues, including complex internal investigations, policy review, and high-level noncompetition and compliance issues.

Before joining Shook, Melissa was a partner at BakerHostetler in Chicago, served as in-house labor and employment counsel for Tribune Company, and held several positions as a human resources executive.

Presentations

Ethical Issues for Privacy and Data Security Professionals, PLI Annual Institute on Privacy and Cybersecurity Law, May 24, 2022 (with Al Saikali). 

Wrongful Collection: Practices that Lead to Liability, Privacy + Security Academy's Privacy + Security Forum Spring Academy, March 2022.

Breaking It Down and Breaking It Out: Minimizing the Legal Risks of Emerging Trends in Privacy and Cybersecurity, ACC Annual Conference, October 14, 2020 (with Al Saikali and Colman McCarthy).

Media

Illinois Biometric Privacy Cases to Watch in 2nd Half of 2021, Law360, July 8, 2021.

Lawmakers Looking at Changing Illinois Biometric Privacy Law, Washington Examiner, April 13, 2021.

The Top 7 Privacy and Cybersecurity Rulings So Far in 2019, Law360, July 3, 2019.

Employers Face ‘Surge’ of Suits Under Ill. Biometrics Law, Law360, October 30, 2017.

Should Employers Use the Fluctuating Workweek Method? SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), March 13, 2017.