Articles Posted in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Employers have begun relying on various artificial intelligence (AI) tools to streamline the hiring process and other aspects of the employment relationship. While the marketing for these tools sometimes claims that they can perform certain tasks better than humans, experience demonstrates that they are not free of many human biases. Humans programmed the AIs, after all, and may have included their own biases in the code. Two pending bills would amend New Jersey employment law to regulate the use of these tools in the hiring process. One would require “bias audits” of AI-based analytical tools. The other bill deals specifically with AI tools that analyze video interviews of job applicants.

The Use of AI in Hiring

The term “artificial intelligence” can refer to several types of software applications. Generative AI, for example, can create written or visual works based on user prompts. Employers use analytical AI tools to go through large amounts of data and make recommendations or decisions. For example, an AI system could screen job applicants based on whatever factors employers choose. This is the source of much of the concern about AI in employment decisions. Employers are ultimately liable for bias in an AI tool’s algorithm.

Automated Employment Decision Tools

A3854, introduced in the New Jersey Assembly on February 22, 2024, would regulate companies that produce and sell “automated employment decision tools” (AEDTs), as well as the employers that use them. The bill defines an AEDT as a system that uses statistical theory or a learning algorithm to filter job applicants or employees in a way that “establishes a preferred candidate or candidates.” Any AI system that screens job applicants would fit this definition.
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Employers are increasingly relying on tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) for various employment-related purposes. AI tools can be useful for tasks that require sifting through large amounts of information, such as the hiring process. New Jersey employment laws set limits on employers when they are making hiring decisions. Employers may not, for example, screen job candidates based on protected categories like disability, genetic history, or pregnancy. Employers are liable for these types of hiring decisions even when they outsource them to someone else. This includes AI tools, but the law in New Jersey remains unclear on how laws against employment discrimination apply to virtual decision-makers. The White House recently issued an executive order (EO) providing directives to various executive agencies regarding AI. These include instructions to agencies that enforce federal employment laws to review current AI practices with the goal of “ensur[ing] that AI deployed in the workplace advances employees’ well-being.”

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits employers from taking various adverse actions against job applicants and employees solely based on factors like race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and others. This includes refusing to consider someone for employment because of a protected category. Many of the categories identified by the NJLAD have historically served as the basis for countless adverse hiring decisions.

One concern about the use of AI in screening job applicants and assisting in hiring decisions is that human biases, whether consciously held or not, could become part of the software’s algorithms. Neither federal nor New Jersey employment laws currently address this concern. New York City enacted a bill several years ago that requires periodic “bias audits” for AI-based tools that employers use in the hiring process. This process involves reviewing AI tools to see if they have any sort of disparate impact on members of protected categories. Lawmakers introduced a similar bill in the New Jersey Assembly in December 2022, but it has not advanced beyond its initial committee assignment.
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