Pret A Manger Fingerprinting Class Action Suit Reaches Settlement

A suit initially filed in November of 2020 in the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division reached a settlement on Thursday. Plaintiff Kayla Quarles, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, had filed suit against her former employer, Pret A Manger (USA) Limited (Pret), after they allegedly violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The initial suit alleged that the defendant had violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when they fingerprinted their employees without “complying to the statute’s informed consent regime or adhering to a publicly-available policy governing the retention and destruction of this highly-sensitive data.”

Fingerprints are considered biometric data, meaning that they are a form of personally identifiable information that cannot be changed like a credit card number. This means that a greater level of protection needs to be given to biometric data like fingerprinting. In an effort to protect biometric information, Illinois passed BIPA in 2008 as a way of providing “heightened protections for biometric privacy rights.” Under BIPA, employers are required to provide information about their intentions with biometric data and obtain a signed written release from any employee they are collecting from prior to the collection.

The plaintiff worked for the defendant in 2018 and 2019, during which time the defendant required her to use a biometric timekeeping system that required a fingerprint scan. She asserts that all new hires had to be fingerprinted so that they could use the timekeeping system. The complaint argued that the fingerprint timekeeping system kept by Pret violated BIPA since they failed to implement and adhere to a “publicly-available policy governing the retention and destruction of its employees’ biometric data.” Further, they maintained a database of employees’ biometric information without the necessary disclosures or consent forms.

Quarles filed the motion for preliminary approval of a settlement agreement that had been reached between the class and the defendant, Pret A Manger. The settlement will provide relief to the 797 former Pret employees who make up the class in the form of $677,450.00. The money will go into a non-reversionary Settlement Fund and all class members will “receive an equal, pro-rata distribution without the need to file a claim or take any other action.”

Regarding the settlement, Judge Manish S. Shah stated that “the settlement appears to be a reasonable compromise of a complicated case with risk on both sides.”The plaintiff was represented in the litigation by Keogh Law, while Pret A Manger was represented by O’Hagan Meyer Law Firm and Jones Day.