At a recent hearing, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examined the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated systems on employment decisions. The goal of the hearing was to identify potential concerns of employer use of artificial intelligence in all areas of employment decision making.
The EEOC is concerned about the use of AI in employment decisions, as many companies use AI technologies for hiring, promotion, and other similar processes. Such tools include resume screening, video-interviewing software evaluating facial expressions and speech, and software that assesses “job fit” based on personality, aptitude, or skills. The EEOC recognizes that these AI systems can have a negative impact on protected groups and “particularly vulnerable workers,” including immigrants, individuals with disabilities, those with criminal records, LGBTQI+ individuals, older workers, and those with limited literacy or English proficiency.
A significant issue in AI systems is bias, which could discriminate against employees through AI systems used for recruitment, hiring, monitoring, and firing. The EEOC is aiming to eliminate technological barriers that lead to discrimination in recruitment, hiring, and promotion. This includes addressing the use of AI systems that intentionally exclude or harm protected groups, restrictive online application processes, and screening or performance-evaluation tools that negatively impact workers based on their protected status.
The hearing, titled “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier,” included perspectives from computer scientists, civil rights advocates, legal experts, industrial-organizational psychologists, and employer representatives.
The hearing was part of EEOC’s AI and Algorithmic Fairness Initiative, which is working to ensure that the use of AI in employment decisions complies with federal civil rights laws. The Commission previously addressed the topic of big data in the workplace in 2016 and has since published a technical assistance document on the use of AI and software to assess job applicants.
Several states have been considering their own legislation for preventing discriminatory use of AI in employment.
The Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act of 2021, a proposed bill from the Washington, D.C., city council, would seek to prohibit users of algorithmic decision-making systems from using algorithmic eligibility determinations in a discriminatory manner, require notifying individuals whose personal information is used, and provides means of civil enforcement. The council has paused activity on the bill while they research more about algorithms and AI systems.
Potomac Legal Group has followed the development of artificial intelligence and its deployment throughout all areas of employment. Regardless of the decision maker – whether a human or algorithm – your employer is ultimately responsible for every instance of discrimination.
If you believe that you have suffered from discriminatory actions at your workplace, contact us to schedule a consultation. We can help you understand your rights and how to enforce them, especially in the rapidly changing areas of technology and AI.