Federal Agencies Announce Inter-Agency Commitment to Protect Employees & Consumers from AI Discrimination

A group of federal agencies recently announced a joint inter-agency commitment to enforcing civil rights and consumer protections as they apply to the quickly emerging AI technologies in the workplace. 

On April 25, 2023, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a joint press conference to recognize the growing use of AI in employment decision-making and AI bias. 

The agencies pledged to work together to ensure that AI is used in ways that do not discriminate against protected classes of individuals, and that employers implement AI systems fairly and transparently.

The EEOC, which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination, noted that AI tools must be carefully designed to avoid disparate impact of protected groups. 

The agency highlighted the importance of evaluating the data sets used to train AI models, as well as ensuring that the algorithms used in AI tools do not unfairly disadvantage certain groups.

While there is yet no federal law that governs AI systems or bias testing, three jurisdictions have taken steps to address the issue. New York City’s new AI employment bias testing law takes effect this year, with enforcement starting in July. Washington, D.C., and California have also proposed legislation addressing AI bias testing for employment, consumer credit and housing.

The DOJ, responsible for enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination in housing, education, and public accommodations, emphasized the need for transparency in AI decision-making. The agency explained that individuals must be able to understand how AI is being used to make decisions that affect their lives, and that companies using AI tools must be held accountable for any discriminatory impact.

The CFPB addressed the use of AI in credit scoring and underwriting. The agency has warned that AI tools must be designed to prevent unfair credit denial or the charging of higher interest rates to certain groups of individuals.

Finally, the FTC, which protects consumers from unfair or deceptive practices in the marketplace, emphasized the need for companies to be transparent about the use of AI in advertising and marketing. The agency stated that companies must clearly disclose when AI is being used to target specific groups of consumers. The FTC said it will be on alert for marketers who use AI to engage in discriminatory or deceptive practices.

The joint statement and press conference demonstrate the federal government’s recognition of the important role that AI is playing in the workplace, and the need to ensure that it is used in ways that are fair and transparent. 

Employers should take note of these statements and ensure that their use of AI tools is designed to avoid discrimination and bias, and that they are transparent about how AI is being used in employment decision-making. By doing so, employers can help to ensure that they are using AI in ways that are consistent with existing civil rights and consumer protection laws.

If you believe you are a victim of workplace discrimination involving human or AI decision-making, contact Potomac Legal Group today.

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