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Latham Secures Dismissal for Advocate Aurora Health in Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA) Class Action

June 18, 2024
Decision marks the first involuntary dismissal of a GIPA claim against a hospital corporation in Illinois.

In April, a Cook County Circuit Judge issued a decision granting Latham’s combined motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment and dismissed a proposed Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA) class action lawsuit, with prejudice. The plaintiff alleged as part of her application for a customer care associate position in an Advocate call center, Advocate violated GIPA by conditioning her employment on the disclosure of her family medical history. The plaintiff claimed this information was solicited verbally and on a written questionnaire during a pre-employment physical exam, and was then used to determine her employment offer.

Latham found no indication of a GIPA violation in its interviews with Advocate leadership or vetting of Plaintiff’s employee file and application materials, and the court agreed.

This decision is the first involuntary dismissal of a GIPA claim against a hospital corporation in Illinois. Given the recent surge of GIPA class action lawsuits in Illinois within the last year, this win is particularly relevant for companies requiring physicals or medical screenings as a contingency for hiring workers and insurance providers vulnerable to allegations of using genetic information for underwriting purposes, including determining eligibility for coverage or calculating premiums.

GIPA claims may open such companies up to potentially explosive liability with damages of US$2,500 per negligent violation and US$15,000 per willful violation. Companies that solicit medical or health information as part of a pre-screening employment process should consider reviewing their written candidate-facing materials and employee training policies and procedures to ensure GIPA compliance. 

The Latham team included partners Mark Mester, Gary Feinerman, and Robert C. Collins III, and associate Alexandra B. van Doren.