Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly prevalent in the hiring process. It is important for workers to be aware of how this impacts them. This page provides information on how AI is being used in the hiring process, its impact on employers and workers, and state laws that have been enacted to protect workers.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial Intelligence is the use of computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. AI is most used in industries such as transportation, healthcare, and finance. Since the pandemic, AI has been used in other industries like retail.
How is AI used in hiring?
AI can be used in several ways to expedite processes in the workplace. Internally, AI can be used to scan job applications, recruit, screen, hire, and onboard new candidates. AI tools are trained to recognize similar applicants that have been hired or denied employment in the past, the technology then uses those characteristics to identify applicants for a particular job.
In addition, employers are using video interviews, chatbots, online assessments, and other screening tools to make certain hiring conclusions. Once a candidate has been identified, AI, in the form of chat bots, can be used to automatically reach out to an individual and determine whether the person is available to start on the employer’s preferred timeline or whether the individual is open to commuting.
With video interviews, companies can record answers to questions and upload them to a database for recruiters to later review and compare to answers from other applicants. They also use facial and voice recognition software to analyze body language, tone, and other factors to determine whether a candidate exhibits preferred traits. See this American Bar Association article for more information.
Why are employers using AI in the hiring process?
Involving AI in the employment processes helps human resources professionals sort through many applications efficiently. According to the American Bar Association, using AI allows every resume to be screened and eliminates preferences and biases of recruiters. In addition, some AI services can also save time by analyzing publicly available data such as social media profiles, resumes, and other text-based data submitted by the applicant, eliminating the need for additional assessments.
What are the disadvantages of using AI in the hiring process?
Some argue that AI tools can retain subconscious biases through their design and could perpetuate additional barriers. For example, if an AI tool is fed resumes of people who have previously been hired by a company, and the recruiting departments making the hiring decision harbored subconscious biases and preferences, those biases and preferences could be inherited by the AI tool. In addition, because AI tends to look at experience, it has the potential to overlook, deprioritize, or even reject qualified applicants. See this American Bar Association article for more information.
What federal law regulates AI in hiring?
There is currently no federal law that regulates the use of AI by private companies. However, this is an emerging area of discussion for some lawmakers. As the federal conversation progresses, we will keep you updated on any implemented laws. However, the use of A.I. in the hiring process has implications for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. See this American Bar Association article for more information on how AI impacts these laws. See workplacefairness.org for more information on discrimination. See workplacefairness.org/discrimination for more information.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an initiative on AI fairness to ensure that AI and other emerging tools used in hiring and other employment decisions comply with federal civil rights laws that the agency enforces. See their website for more information.
What state/city laws currently exist to address AI in hiring?
Illinois: In 2019, Illinois passed the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act. This law requires employers to disclose when they are using AI in accepting video interviews. Employers must notify/provide applicants the following: 1) AI may be used to determine the applicant’s “fitness” for the position; 2) Information before the interview on how the AI works and how it determines a candidate’s “fitness”; 3) Consent from the candidates to be evaluated by AI for the position. Furthermore, under this law, videos may not be shared, and applicants have the option to have their data deleted. See the act or more information.
Maryland: In 2020, Maryland passed HB1202, which prohibits an employer from using facial recognition technology during an applicant’s interview for employment. However, an applicant may provide consent to the technology during the interview. See the law for more information.
New York City, NY: Effective January 1, 2023, New York City employers will be restricted in using AI machine-learning products in hiring or promotion. The law prohibits the use of such tools to screen a candidate or employee for an employment decision unless it has been the subject of a “bias audit” no more than one year prior to its use. A bias audit is an evaluation by an independent party testing the AI tool’s bias based on race, sex, national origin, etc. As a result of the law, employers must maintain the audit on their website.
Furthermore, employers interested in using such tools must first notify each candidate or employee who resides in New York City that an automated employment decision tool will be used in connection with an assessment or evaluation of the individual. See the law on automated employment decision tools for more information.
How can I file a complaint if I believe I was discriminated against during the hiring process by an AI system?
- Reduction in Human Error. The decisions taken by AI in every step is decided by information previously gathered and a certain set of algorithms. When programmed properly, these errors can be reduced to null.
- Save Time. AI can work 24/7 without breaks and perform multiple tasks at the same time.
- Enhance Customer Service. Chat and voice boxes can answer many customer questions using AI.
- Perform Repetitive Jobs. Repetitive tasks are a part of daily work. AI can efficiently automate menial chores and even eliminate “boring” tasks for people, allowing them to focus on being more creative.
To many workers, artificial intelligence brings uncertainty. Employees may experience negative effects of AI in the workplace, such as lost jobs and a less personable hiring process.
It is impossible for a person to match the speed and rate at which computers can produce content. As a result, many people fear that their careers are threatened and have a short expiration date on them.
Companies can use AI in the hiring process to sort through job applications to the ones with the most keywords in the resume. This gives potential employees less chances to differentiate themselves from other applicants. In addition, some AI tools and process have been criticized as being biased against certain demographics.
Regardless of whether you view it as a positive or a negative, AI is integrated in many workplaces. With automation on the rise, some jobs are safer than others in terms of job security. Jobs that AI may have an impact on in the near future include:
- Customer service
- Truck drivers
- Agricultural workers
- Warehouse workers
- Assembly line workers
- Graphic designers
- Food service
- Food delivery
- Postal service
AI’s broad reach makes it a useful asset in education and job training. Simulations allow students and future employees to try their hand at real-life scenarios without the risks that accompany them.
For example, medical students can use virtual reality (VR) to view models of human anatomy and to practice performing a surgery without a real patient. Police academies can use VR to simulate tense situations and teach how to properly respond to them.
AI bias is a negative result of supervised machine learning when benchmarks to create the program are based on a specific group – such as predominantly white men – and a minority is later introduced when using the AI in practice.
To put it simply, AI learns how to do what it does by referring to human data. If that data is swayed by being disproportionately composed of white male behavior, it can result in AI that disfavors or is less equipped to handle women, people of color, people with disabilities, and other minority communities.
There are no federal laws governing AI in the workplace, though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Justice have published guidance on this area. The full guidance is published under the title, “Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Disability Discrimination in Hiring.”
These guidelines were published as part of the EEOC’s Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Fairness Initiative that was launched in 2021 to reconcile AI with civil rights.
State law in this area is evolving. Contact an employment attorney in your state for more information. See the Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory for a listing of employment attorneys.