The EEOC is focusing on artificial intelligence and algorithmic fairness in the workplace.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is initiating an attempt to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) and other new tools used in hiring and other employment decisions are compliant with federal civil rights laws. The initiative will look at how technology is fundamentally changing how employers make hiring decisions, with the goal of guiding applicants, employees, employers, and technology vendors in making sure that these technologies are used fairly and in accordance with federal equal employment opportunity laws.
“Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools have great potential to improve our lives, including in the area of employment,” EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows said. “At the same time, the EEOC is keenly aware that these tools may mask and perpetuate bias or create new discriminatory barriers to jobs. We must work to ensure that these new technologies do not become a high-tech pathway to discrimination.”
- Establish an internal working group to coordinate the agency’s work on the initiative;
- Launch a series of listening sessions with key stakeholders about algorithmic tools and their employment ramifications;
- Gather information about the adoption, design, and impact of hiring and other employment-related technologies;
- Identify promising practices; and
- Issue technical assistance to provide guidance on algorithmic fairness and the use of AI in employment decisions.
This is a work in progress. The new initiative builds on the Commission’s previous work in this area. Since at least 2016, when the EEOC convened a public discussion on the EEO implications of big data in the workplace, the Commission has been looking into the use of AI, people analytics, and big data in hiring and other employment decisions. In 2021, the EEOC’s systemic investigators underwent comprehensive training on the use of artificial intelligence in employment practices.
“Bias in employment arising from the use of algorithms and AI falls squarely within the Commission’s priority to address systemic discrimination,” according to Burrows. “While the technology may be evolving, antidiscrimination laws still apply. The EEOC will address workplace bias that violates federal civil rights laws regardless of the form it takes, and the agency is committed to helping employers understand how to benefit from these new technologies while also complying with employment laws.”