EEOC Unveils Initiative on Artificial Intelligence; Join Our Call on December 1

November 05, 2021

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has launched an initiative to ensure that artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools “do not become a high-tech pathway to discrimination,” EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows announced in a recent panel.  On December 1st, EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling will join our Future Workplace Policy Council to discuss the use of AI in the workplace and the attending legal and compliance issues.

The initiative “aims to guide applicants, employees, employers, and technology vendors in ensuring that these technologies are used fairly, consistent with federal equal employment opportunity laws,” according to the EEOC.  Specifically, 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 bottom line here, really, is despite this aura of neutrality and objectivity around artificial intelligence and predictive tools that incorporate algorithms, they can end up reproducing human biases if we’re not careful and aware that we need to check for that,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows during a Genius Machines event

The EEOC has not yet issued written guidance on the use of AI in employment decisions.  The most relevant guidance document, the EEOC’s 1978 Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, is 43 years old.  In 2016, the Commission held a meeting examining the implications of big data in the workplace for equal employment opportunity laws. 

Federal scrutiny of employer use of AI ramping up:  The EEOC’s initiative signals an increased focus on the use of AI in the employment decisions.  Last month, the White House launched an initiative to develop an “AI Bill of Rights,” with an emphasis on eliminating bias and “freedom from pervasive or discriminatory” workplace monitoring.  

HR Policy engaged the EEOC on artificial intelligence issues earlier this year, and will continue to do so.  Meanwhile, we plan to submit comments on a White House RFI regarding the use of biometric technologies.

EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling will join our Future Workplace Policy Council to discuss the use of AI in the workplace and the attending legal and compliance issues on December 1.  You can find registration information for the webinar here.