AI Tools Can Challenge Employers’ Compliance on Discrimination

Diversity Meeting

AI-driven “bossware” tools — which track employee productivity by following location and keystrokes — could be an issue for a company’s efforts to comply with discrimination laws, according to the Associated Press. On top of that, the news agency said AI candidate screening tools could cross the line when it comes to ethics. That’s sure to present an issue as, according to a recent SHRM study, 79% of employers use AI for recruitment and hiring.

In response, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year released a set of guidelines covering the use of AI systems that automate employment decisions, such as who to hire or promote. The Commission also put out a technical assistance document that focused on preventing discrimination, in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. ) 


EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows launched the initiative to ensure that “the use of software, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other emerging technologies used in hiring and other employment decisions comply with the federal civil rights laws that the EEOC enforces.” The initiative’s goal is to guide employers, employees, job applicants and vendors to ensure these technologies are used fairly and consistently with federal equal employment opportunity laws.

Burrows said the agency is trying to educate employers and technology providers about the requirements surrounding such tools. “We want to work with employers, but there’s certainly no exemption to the civil rights laws because you engage in discrimination some high-tech way,” she added.

Other agencies are following suit, warning companies of how discrimination can creep into their processes when they AI tools for HR purposes. In fact, according to AP, the Department of Justice has sent out similar warnings over the past year, concerned that some workforce-related tools could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Image: iStock

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