'They must ensure that the use of these technologies aligns with the civil rights laws'
The Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a technical assistance document focused on preventing discrimination against job seekers and workers.
The guide explains the application of key established aspects of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to an employer’s use of automated systems, including those that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI).
“As employers increasingly turn to AI and other automated systems, they must ensure that the use of these technologies aligns with the civil rights laws and our national values of fairness, justice and equality,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “This new technical assistance document will aid employers and tech developers as they design and adopt new technologies.”
Preventing workplace discrimination
The document discusses adverse impact, a key civil rights concept, to help employers prevent the use of AI from leading to discrimination in the workplace. This document builds on previous EEOC releases of technical assistance on AI and the Americans with Disabilities Act and a joint agency pledge.
It also answers questions employers and tech developers may have about how Title VII applies to use of automated systems in employment decisions and assists employers in evaluating whether such systems may have an adverse or disparate impact on a basis prohibited by Title VII.
“I encourage employers to conduct an ongoing self-analysis to determine whether they are using technology in a way that could result in discrimination,” said Burrows. “This technical assistance resource is another step in helping employers and vendors understand how civil rights laws apply to automated systems used in employment.”
In April, U.S. officials warned financial firms and others that use of AI can heighten the risk of bias and civil rights violations, and signaled they are policing marketplaces for such discrimination, according to Reuters.
Increased reliance on automated systems in sectors including lending, employment and housing threatens to exacerbate discrimination based on race, disabilities and other factors, said the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Justice Department's civil rights unit, Federal Trade Commission and others.