New York City AI Law Requires Employers to Prevent Built-In Bias

NYC employers must work with lawyers to prevent discrimination in AI

A New York City law will soon require employers who use artificial intelligence (AI) in their workplace to proactively ensure their technology does not discriminate against workers. A novel law passed by the New York City Council will oblige employers to conduct audits of their automated decision-making tools and make results publicly available. The initiative was passed to deter unlawful bias against employees.

The increasing use of AI in the workplace to make hiring, firing, and promotional decisions has evoked serious concerns amongst lawmakers, privacy advocates, and workers alike. Applications of AI have been found to disproportionately discriminate against women, people with disabilities, and older workers. Local Law Int. No. 1894-A will promote greater caution in the deployment of automation by requiring  necessary employer oversight. 

Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

Automation and artificial intelligence have transformed the modern workplace. Algorithms, which solve problems using artificial intelligence, have been utilized to optimize productivity for businesses around the world. These automated problem solvers have been dispatched to evaluate teacher performance in schools, track employee movements, and hire candidates for open roles. Criticism against these applications of artificial intelligence have raised concerns about the technology’s proclivity to discriminate against protected groups and erode personal privacy. 

New York City AI Law Promotes Transparency 

The New York City law is the latest legislative action to improve the transparency of automatic systems governing more workplaces. Most employers use third-party companies to access AI tools. The new law, which will go into effect January 2023, pressures employers to engage with their vendors and lawyers to ensure compliance and avoid unlawful bias. Employers will also have to notify their workers of any new AI technologies brought into the workplace. 

Another key part of the law will shine a light on the types of data employers collect on their workers using AI. The law advances the right to know for workers who may be surveilled. 

At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published guidance for employers to evaluate their algorithms, especially those that may discriminate against disabled workers. This federal guidance does not enforce any fines or punishments for disregarding the EEOC’s suggestions. The New York City law will fine first offenders $500 for employers who do not meet the law’s equitable requirements and $1,500 for each subsequent violation. 

Research and investigations into AI technology have fostered doubts about its black box style. Whether personalized news feeds or hiring recommendation tools, most people who engage with AI do not know how the technology makes its decisions. New York City’s new Local Law Int. No. 1894-A addresses this uncertainty and encourages understanding with routine audits, refreshed transparency, and accountability for the ones who make decisions. 

Contact the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis

Have you experienced bias in your workplace? If so, seek legal assistance from the employment lawyers at the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis, located in New York City and in Livingston, New Jersey. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel. 

Our employment lawyers specialize in many areas of the law, including discrimination, wrongful termination, and FMLA. Whatever your employment issue is, please reach out for a consultation today.