BNSF to pay more than $200M for trucker biometric violation

October 21, 2022

Tyson Fisher


A federal jury has awarded a class of truckers more than $200 million after finding BNSF Railway violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.

A jury for the Northern District of Illinois U.S. District Court awarded thousands of truckers $228 million in a case against the railroad. The lawsuit accuses the railroad company of violating truckers’ rights within the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, also known as BIPA.

According to the second amended complaint, truckers were required to visit various railyards, including the Illinois facilities owned and operated by BNSF. At BNSF facilities, truckers were required to register their biometric identifiers and/or biometric information into biometrically-enabled “Auto-Gate Systems” that partially control entrances and exits at the facilities.

Essentially, drivers were required to provide fingerprint identification to BNSF for scanning.

BNSF collected, captured and stored truckers’ biometric identifiers. However, the railroad company failed to provide any written disclosures describing the purpose and duration of the use of such information. Furthermore, BNSF failed to obtain written consent from the truckers, a violation of BIPA.

A federal jury found BNSF liable for one count of violating Illinois’ BIPA and awarded plaintiffs $228 million. The complaint claims at least 44,000 truckers may be eligible for compensation.

This is the first such case to go to trial. LL