October 28, 2021
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Agency Will Focus on Ways to Help Ensure That Tech Tools Used in Employment Decisions Comply with Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is launching an initiative to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging tools used in hiring and other employment decisions comply with federal civil rights laws that the agency enforces, EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows announced today at a Genius Machines 2021 event.
“Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools have great potential to improve our lives, including in the area of employment,” 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.”
The initiative will examine more closely how technology is fundamentally changing the way employment decisions are made. It aims to guide applicants, employees, employers, and technology vendors in ensuring that these technologies are used fairly, consistent with federal equal employment opportunity laws.
“Bias in employment arising from the use of algorithms and AI falls squarely within the Commission’s priority to address systemic discrimination,” Burrows said. “While the technology may be evolving, anti-discrimination 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.”
As part of the new initiative, the EEOC plans to:
- 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.
The new initiative will build on the previous work of the Commission in this area. The Commission has been examining the issue of AI, people analytics, and big data in hiring and other employment decisions since at least 2016. That year, the EEOC held a public meeting on the equal employment opportunity implications of big data in the workplace. Additionally, the EEOC’s systemic investigators received extensive training in 2021 on the use of AI in employment practices.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest news by subscribing to the EEOC email updates.