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Walmart to Pay Illinois Workers $10M Over Privacy Issues

Walmart will pay $10 million to some Illinois employees to settle allegations it used a palm scanning device that violated their privacy rights, a deal that could amount to a couple hundred dollars for each person.

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(TNS) — Walmart will pay $10 million to some Illinois employees to settle allegations it used a palm scanning device that violated their privacy rights.

The deal could amount to a couple hundred dollars for each person who is part of the class-action settlement, which received preliminary approval from the Cook County Circuit Court last month.

In a lawsuit filed in 2019, former Walmart employee  Ethan Roach  alleged the retailer required him to use a palm-scanning device when checking out and returning cash register drawers without obtaining his written permission, violating an Illinois law protecting residents’ biometric information. . Roach worked at a Walmart in Litchfield, an Illinois city about 50 miles from St. Louis, the lawsuit said.

The settlement applies to current and former Walmart employees in Illinois who used a palm scanner to access a cash recycler system, without first providing written consent between Jan. 28, 2014 and when the retailer stopped using the scanners. Use of the scanners ended Feb. 28, 2018 at Walmart stores and April 24, 2019 at Sam’s Club stores.

The class includes an estimated 21,677 people, which would amount to a settlement of $461.32 per person, according to court records. However, the final sum will depend on how many people file claims and how much of the settlement goes to attorney fees and court costs. Attorneys for the employees can ask the court to award them up to a third of the $10 million.

Anyone who may be eligible for the settlement will be notified by mail and text message or email, where information is available, according to court records. Notices have not been sent out, but once they are, people will have 90 days to file a claim, said  Douglas Werman , Roach’s attorney.

Walmart said employees could use numeric pin codes to access the system instead of the palm scanner , according to court records. The retailer said it deleted palm scan data, or asked to have it deleted, after it stopped using the technology at Illinois stores.

“We’re pleased the court preliminarily approved the parties’ agreement to settle,” the company said in a statement.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act requires companies get permission to collect and use biometric information and publish a written policy establishing a schedule for how long it would keep that information.

Several companies have faced lawsuits alleging they mishandled customers’ or employees’ biometric information, notably tech giant Facebook, which is paying $650 million to settle a class action lawsuit over its facial tagging feature. Nearly 1.6 million Illinois Facebook users are in line to get about $350 each.

(c)2021 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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