From today’s Seattle Times:
The federal government said Thursday that artificial intelligence technology to screen new job candidates or monitor worker productivity can unfairly discriminate against people with disabilities, sending a warning to employers that the commonly used hiring tools could violate civil rights laws.
The U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jointly issued guidance to employers to take care before using popular algorithmic tools meant to streamline the work of evaluating employees and job prospects — but which could also potentially run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We are sounding an alarm regarding the dangers tied to blind reliance on AI and other technologies that we are seeing increasingly used by employers,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the department’s Civil Rights Division told reporters Thursday. “The use of AI is compounding the longstanding discrimination that jobseekers with disabilities face.”
Among the examples given of popular work-related AI tools were resume scanners, employee monitoring software that ranks workers based on keystrokes, game-like online tests to assess job skills and video interviewing software that measures a person’s speech patterns or facial expressions.
Such technology could potentially screen out people with speech impediments, severe arthritis that slows typing or a range of other physical or mental impairments, the officials said.
Tools built to automatically analyze workplace behavior can also overlook on-the-job accommodations — such as a quiet workstation for someone with post-traumatic stress disorder or more frequent breaks for a pregnancy-related disability — that enable employees to modify their work conditions to perform their jobs successfully.
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