fbpx

Whole Foods Taking of Workers’ Voiceprints Illinois BIPA Class Action

Many companies now use fingerprints and hand scans for timekeeping in their workplaces. This complaint takes issue with the use of voiceprints or voice/speaker recognition by Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. at its distribution center in Illinois, claiming that its practices violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

The class for this action is all persons who, within the applicable statute of limitations, had their voiceprints collected, obtained, or disclosed by Whole Foods in Illinois, without their consent, and/or whose voiceprints were not deleted in a timely manner.

The Whole Foods voiceprints or voice/speaker recognition technology is called Vocollect or the Talkman, which is sold by Honeywell International, Inc.

The complaint alleges that Whole Foods “creates workers’ voiceprints, voice patterns or templates, which are then used to enable its workers to interact with [Whole Foods’s] warehouse technology to recognize a worker.”

The system requires that new workers train the technology to recognize their speech: The “worker is required to provide [Whole Foods] with personal speech patterns by reading a series of voice template words repeatedly into Whole Foods’s voice recognition software until a voiceprint or template of voice is created, and the software is trained to understand the speaker’s idiosyncratic way of speaking and to specifically identify and recognize the individual worker and voice.”

The voiceprint becomes part of the worker’s file, along with the worker’s name and employee number. The complaint alleges that “the worker is sent orders from a central worker management computer through a headset, and executes those orders by interacting and having a dialogue with the voice recognition software which responds based upon the worker’s voiceprint or template.”

According to the complaint, “The voiceprints are not merely voice ‘recordings’ but biometric identifiers that are influenced by both the physical structure of an operator’s vocal tract but the employee’s specific vocal behavioral characteristics. As a worker’s voice changes in different environments, the software adjusts the template to account for changes in the worker’s voice…”

The voiceprints or voice templates are unique to each individual, and the complaint alleges they are biometrics, with their collection, storage, and use regulated under BIPA.

However, the complaint alleges that Whole Foods has not complied with BIPA’s requirements when collecting, storing, or using workers’ voiceprints in Illinois.

For example, the complaint alleges that workers whose voiceprints were taken “were never first asked for their consent, nor were they ever provided with a written policy regarding the use of their biometric identifiers as required under BIPA.” It also claims “they were never told whether their voiceprints would be deleted from [Whole Foods’s] systems or when they would be deleted.”

The complaint claims that the voiceprints are stored in a central location which might be hacked or breached, and that, if stolen, they could be used to commit identity theft. The complaint alleges this exposes the workers “to serious and irreversible privacy risks.” This is because biometrics cannot be changed or replaced.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Whole Foods Taking of Workers’ Voiceprints Illinois BIPA Complaint

March 16, 2022

Many companies now use fingerprints and hand scans for timekeeping in their workplaces. This complaint takes issue with the use of voiceprints or voice/speaker recognition by Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. at its distribution center in Illinois, claiming that its practices violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Whole Foods Taking of Workers’ Voiceprints Illinois BIPA Complaint

Case Event History

Whole Foods Taking of Workers’ Voiceprints Illinois BIPA Complaint

March 16, 2022

Many companies now use fingerprints and hand scans for timekeeping in their workplaces. This complaint takes issue with the use of voiceprints or voice/speaker recognition by Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. at its distribution center in Illinois, claiming that its practices violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Whole Foods Taking of Workers’ Voiceprints Illinois BIPA Complaint
Tags: Biometric Data, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Your Privacy