Could You Discriminate Unintentionally When Using AI for Hiring?

Businesses in Texas and across the country are increasingly relying upon artificial intelligence (AI) in recruiting and hiring new employees, yet questions concerning the ethical and potentially discriminatory use of AI has arisen in various industries. Particularly with a shift to more remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, if your Texas business is currently using AI for recruiting and hiring, or if you are considering the possibility of relying on AI to recruit or hire new workers, do you need to be concerned about the possibility of AI-related discrimination against women or minorities?

According to an article from the American Bar Association (ABA), even prior to the pandemic, many companies began shifting to the use of AI tools for screening job applicants and potential employees.  But AI tools have become significantly more popular as employers recruit remotely in the present. As the ABA article underscores, in some cases, AI tools may “introduce bias into the process and expose employers to liability under various federal, state, and local laws.” What does your business need to know about the use of AI and the possibility of discriminating unintentionally by using AI for hiring?

How Employers Use AI

To understand how AI can result in bias or discrimination in certain circumstances, it is important to learn more about the types of AI tools that are used in recruiting and hiring. In general, AI can be used by employers to do one or more of the following:

  • Target potential job applicants and send job advertisements.
  • Screen resumes from applicant pools to determine which applicants should be interviewed.
  • Respond to questions from job applicants.
  • Analyze print and video materials to determine whether an applicant would be a good fit for the advertised job.

Depending upon the specific AI tool used and how it is applied, the use of AI could have a discriminatory impact. To be clear, AI tools designed to do any of the above tasks are not designed to discriminate against certain job applicants. However, the ways in which the AI is designed and applied ultimately may have an unintentional discriminatory effect.

Discrimination and AI: What are the Risks?

What kinds of issues does your business need to consider when using AI for recruiting or hiring? The following are examples of issues in certain AI tools that could potentially open your business up to a discrimination allegation:

  • Some AI programs that have been programmed to select “neutral” characteristics may have been tailored to men or white applicants and thereby screen out women and minority applicants.
  • AI programs that screen for specific zip codes in order to find recruits who could come into the office in person on a regular basis, may end up screening out neighborhoods or zip codes made up of Black or Latinx applicants.
  • AI programs that look for “successful” traits in previous workers (that use male workers as a default) might thereby exclude character traits that many successful female employees possess.

Contact Our Frisco Employment Law Attorneys

If you have questions about using AI in your company’s hiring and recruiting, or if you want to ensure that the AI tools you are using are not putting you at risk of a discrimination claim, one of our Frisco employment lawyers can assist you. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC to learn more.

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