After the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in January holding that a plaintiff need not show actual harm to be an “aggrieved person” under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), parties litigating under BIPA have been testing other defenses. One of those defenses is whether BIPA matters can be compelled to arbitration pursuant to an arbitration provision set forth in the parties’ agreement.
On Tuesday, April 9, the First District Appellate Court of Illinois issued its decision in Liu v. Four Seasons Hotel, Ltd., 2019 IL App (1st) 182645, holding that a BIPA claim could not be compelled to arbitration based on the language of the employment agreement at issue. Specifically, the employment agreement provided that a dispute was subject to mandatory, binding arbitration if it “is based on one of the following types of claims as defined by law: (a) employment discrimination; (b) harassment as it relates to my employment; (c) a wage or hour violation; (d) or termination of my employment from the Hotel.” Defendant argued that plaintiffs’ BIPA claim was a “wage or hour” dispute because the scans of plaintiffs’ fingerprints were used to track the hours the plaintiffs worked and therefore, it was an “hour” violation claim. The appellate court disagreed.