Curran & Curran Law

A Boutique Employment Law Firm Representing San Diego

U.S. government warns against disability discrimination

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Employment Law

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can potentially transform many industries in California. It is already being used in the hiring field. The tool can help companies with the hundreds or thousands of resumes they may receive for new positions that they post. But these companies also have to ensure they treat their employees fairly and according to the law.

New AI tools

The use of AI has exploded in recent months throughout the internet. Tools have finally become sophisticated enough to be used by any person or company. Individuals are programming chatbots to tell stories and visual programs to create fantastic art displays. Companies have access to tools that can now process keystrokes and scan facial expressions. The tools process hundreds or thousands of data points and create a profile of how good an employee an interviewee will be.

Potential problems

The legal pitfalls of these practices are connected to work discrimination. According to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), AI tools can unwittingly discriminate against protected groups. They may screen out people who have certain disabilities or those of different races or ages. The technology may have supposedly neutral parameters such as “energy” or “interest” that eliminate many people with disabilities. Through this process, companies would be breaking the law and are subject to heavy fines and penalties. The EEOC has issued official guidance and will be following up that guidance with disciplinary action for any of the companies caught violating these rules.

Companies that use AI did not start out wanting to discriminate or deny opportunities to anyone. But discrimination law is often focused on disparate impact instead of intention. Using AI is no excuse to discriminate against any protected group.