On January 3, 2023, an Illinois state court entered a preliminary approval order for a settlement of nearly $300,000 in a class action lawsuit against Whole Foods for claims that the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). The plaintiffs alleged that Whole Foods unlawfully collected voiceprints from employees who worked at the company’s distribution centers.
In the case in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division, the plaintiffs alleged that, by requiring them to use headsets that collected and used their voiceprints without providing them with a written policy regarding use and retention of their biometric identifiers and obtaining their consent, the company violated BIPA. The plaintiffs further alleged that these violations continuously and repeatedly exposed the company’s workers to privacy risks, such as hackers obtaining and using their personal information to steal their identity and commit identify theft.
An attorney for the plaintiffs is quoted as saying “To my knowledge, this is the first ever BIPA settlement involving allegations of voice biometrics.” Several lawsuits have been filed alleging BIPA violations relating to the use of these headsets.