Focused On Business Law

Attorneys Sara Bradley, Marinda Neumann and Lindsay Nakagawa.

What are the dangers of an automated hiring system?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Employment Law

Technology can be a godsend for California business owners by providing applications and other tools that simplify many tasks and reduce costs. However, some technology advancements may put companies at risk unwittingly. One example is using artificial intelligence (AI) to sort through job applicants.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidance in 2022 explaining how AI and algorithms can lead to discrimination against applicants with disabilities, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). California has drafted proposed amendments to employment standards over these automated-decision systems.

How employers use AI and algorithms

The DOJ says many employers use these tools to help them select new employees. The technology can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Targeting specific groups with job advertisements
  • Assessing whether applicants meet job requirements
  • Distributing computer-based aptitude and personality tests
  • Holding online interviews with applicants
  • Scoring applicants’ resumes

Many of these actions are taken before a human resources person or hiring manager views an application.

Two examples of potential discrimination

Businesses that want to utilize advanced technology should address these essential considerations before automating any level of their hiring practices:

  1. Aptitude and skills testing can punish applicants with disabilities: Studies have shown that aptitude tests administered online do not take a person’s disability into account. Candidates with disabilities are routinely dismissed during the first stage of the hiring process.
  2. Personality testing can adversely affect applicants with autism: Personality tests are often used to identify candidates with specific qualities employers want. But some candidates with autism do not process and respond to these questions like other applicants.

Bottom line? While advanced technology can be cost-effective and streamline many processes, relying on automated systems to narrow a list of job applicants can put employers at risk of unfair hiring practices. Before implementing AI or other technologies, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to review your policies and procedures to make sure you comply with all applicable rules.