American Airlines Carrier Settles Biometric Privacy Suit

On July 6th, 2022, American Airlines carrier Envoy Air (“Envoy” or the “Company” or “Defendant”) reached a binding settlement agreement with former employee and lead Plaintiff Maysoun Abudayyeh on behalf of herself and similarly situated class members (collectively, “Plaintiffs”).

While the details of the settlement agreement are not yet available, according to the reports of Magistrate Judge Heather K. McShain of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the agreement is the product of a settlement conference in late June of 2022. By August 22, 2022, the parties are required to either file dismissal papers or a report explaining the status of their settlement.

Abudayyeh, a former passenger service agent at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, filed the suit in December 2020, alleging that Envoy’s timekeeping technology violates state privacy law.

According to the First Amended Complaint, individuals working in Envoy facilities were required to “clock-in” and “clock-out” of work by scanning their fingerprint or handprint on a scanning device. This granted the Company access to the biometric information of a purported class of at least 1,000 employees or former employees.

Plaintiffs allege Envoy’s actions violate Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), widely regarded as the most stringent state privacy law. BIPA requires private companies to obtain consent and provide notice and disclosure of their collection and storage of an individual’s biometric information.

Specifically, Plaintiffs allege Envoy violated BIPA by (1) failing to obtain informed consent before collecting biometric data through the scanner, (2) failing to inform individuals of their intent to collect biometric data and the extent of the data stored, and (3) failing to maintain a publicly available retention schedule and policy for permanently destroying this data.

The case was initially filed in Illinois state court before Defendants removed to federal court in January 2021. Following its relocation to the Northern District of Illinois, the Honorable Andrea R. Wood held that Abudayyeh and the class could pursue relief only for alleged BIPA violations occurring between mid-December 2015 and late June 2016, the time prior to express negotiations toward a final contract between Abudayyeh’s union, the Communication Workers of America (“CWA”), and the airline.

The settlement comes as Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, filed in October 2021, is still pending. The Motion to Dismiss alleged that the CWA-Envoy agreement applied retroactively back to November 2015 and thereby barred all of Plaintiffs’ claims.

Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The case caption for the lawsuit is Maysoun Abudayyeh et al. v. Envoy Air, Inc., Case No. 1:21−cv−00142, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The legal team at Miller Shah LLP has significant experience representing class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this post, please contact Alec Berin (ajberin@millershah.com) or Elise Wilson (emwilson@millershah.com). The firm can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

Miller Shah, LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The firm is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (IAG Global), which provides clients access to excellent legal and accounting resources across the globe. For more information about the firm, please visit https://www.millershah.com.

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