Beware Algorithmic Bias

Beware Algorithmic Bias

Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) settled a “first of its kind” lawsuit alleging that a tutoring firm’s software tool – powered by artificial intelligence algorithms – automatically rejected female applicants over 55 and males over 60. The EEOC further alleged that such rejections violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (which protects employees and applicants aged 40 and over). The tutoring firm has agreed to pay $365,000 to resolve the claims – a costly settlement, especially since the company may not have been aware of the screening bias.

This case serves as a reminder that while automated AI processes can promote efficiency within an organization, they may also present legal compliance risks. To reduce these risks, employers should:

  • Periodically review AI-powered workplace tools. Because bias in AI software may be imputed to the user, it is important to ensure that such tools do not automatically reject or limit applicants from a protected class. Companies should monitor their software tools for any evidence of bias.
  • Promote human contact. Ensure that human resources employees continue to play a meaningful role in the decision-making process.
  • Establish clear anti-discrimination policies. A strong employee handbook helps to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to legal compliance.

If you have questions, call us today at 248.477.6300.

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