Artificial Intelligence (AI), including machine learning and other AI-based tools, can be effective ways to sort large amounts of data and make uniform decisions. The value of such tools has been embraced by some employers as an efficient way to address current increased hiring needs in the current job market. The use of artificial intelligence () as an aid to employers in making employment decisions—e.g., recruitment, resume screening, or promotions—has been on the radar of lawmakers and regulators in recent years, particularly out of concern for the risk that these tools may mask or entrench existing discriminatory hiring practices or create new ones. For example, some workers have filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) based on alleged discrimination that resulted from employers’ use of AI tools, leading the EEOC to establish an internal working group in October 2021 to study the use of AI for employment decisions. Elsewhere, a bill addressing the discriminatory use of AI was proposed in Washington, DC in late 2021, and Illinois enacted one of the first U.S. laws directly regulating the use of AI in employment-related video interviews in 2019. In contrast, a bill proposed in California in 2020 suggested that AI could be used in employment to help prevent bias and discrimination.
On November 10, 2021, the New York City Council passed the latest such bill, which places new restrictions on New York City employers’ use of AI and other automated tools in making decisions on hiring and promotions. The measure—which takes effect on January 2, 2023—regulates the use of “automated employment decision tools” (AEDTs) which it defines as computational processes “derived from machine learning, statistical modeling, data analytics, or artificial intelligence” that issue a “simplified output” to “substantially assist or replace” decision-making on employment decisions (i.e., hiring new candidates or promoting employees). Under the new law, employers and employment agencies are barred from using AEDTs to screen candidates unless certain prerequisites are met. First, the AEDT must be subject to a bias audit within the last year. Second, a summary of the results of the most recent audit, as well as the distribution date of the AEDT, must be made publicly available on the employer’s or employment agency’s website. The law describes this “bias audit” as “an impartial evaluation by an independent auditor” which “shall include, but not be limited to” assessing the AEDT’s “disparate impact on persons” based on race, ethnicity, and sex.