DOJ warns AI hiring and productivity tools can violate anti-discrimination law

Companies may unfairly exclude people with disabilities.

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Federal agencies are the latest to alert companies to potential bias in AI recruiting tools. As the AP notes, the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have warned employers that AI hiring and productivity systems can violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. These technologies might discriminate against people with disabilities by unfairly ruling out job candidates, applying incorrect performance monitoring, asking for illegal sensitive info or limiting pay raises and promotions.

Accordingly, the government bodies have released documents (DOJ, EEOC) outlining the ADA's requirements and offering help to improve the fairness of workplace AI systems. Businesses should ensure their AI allows for reasonable accommodations.They should also consider how any of their automated tools might affect people with various disabilities.

There's no guarantee companies will follow the advice. However, it comes amid mounting pressure on companies to temper their uses of AI for recruiting and worker tracking. California recently enacted a productivity quota law banning algorithms that violate health, labor and safety regulations, or lead to firings of people who can't meet dangerous quotas. New York City, meanwhile, now requires that AI hiring systems pass yearly audits looking for discrimination. Companies that don't heed the new warnings could face serious legal repercussions at multiple levels.