Employers are being warned that the use of algorithms and AI technology in hiring could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act

Miami, Florida, man in power wheelchair crossing a busy street. Jeffrey Greenberg/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The technologies could weed out people with disabilities who are able to get the job done, the DOJ and EEOC said.
Face and voice analysis technologies can exclude qualified individuals with autism or speech disabilities.
Personality tests could screen out people with mild intellectual disabilities.
The use of algorithms and AI technology in hiring workers could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers have been warned.
DISPLAY
The increasing use of algorithms and AI tools by employers in hiring processes, in monitoring performance and in determining salaries or promotions could lead to discrimination against people with disabilities, the Justice Department and the Equal Opportunities Commission warned in a joint statement on Thursday would be a violation of the law.
"Algorithmic tools should not be a barrier to people with disabilities seeking access to jobs," Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
While ADA is in effect to protect disabled citizens, only 19% of disabled Americans were employed in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
EEOC chair Charlotte Burrows said last year that about 83% of employers and 90% of Fortune 500 companies use automated tools in their hiring processes, Bloomberg Law reported.
DISPLAY
The DOJ and EEOC said people whose disabilities would not affect their ability to do the job could be screened out through the use of algorithms and AI technology in the hiring process. As an example, they gave the termination of an automated interview with an applicant in a wheelchair if the applicant answered "no" to the question of whether he could stand for a long time.
Face and voice analysis technologies could exclude qualified people with autism or speech disabilities, the departments said, while personality tests could screen out those with mild intellectual disabilities.
"This essentially speeds up the way employers can discriminate against people who might otherwise be fully qualified for the positions they seek," Clarke told NBC News.
The EEOC has released a report that provides tips for employers to ensure they comply with the ADA, as well as for disabled job applicants and workers whose rights under the law may have been violated.
“New technologies should not become new forms of discrimination. When employers understand how AI and other technologies can discriminate against people with disabilities, they can take steps to prevent it," Burrows said in a statement.
The announcement comes after the EEOC launched an investigation in October 2021 to look at how algorithms and AI technology are affecting fairness in employer decision-making.
The panel filed its first algorithmic discrimination case on May 5, suing a company that EEOC said had used software that automatically rejected applicants over a certain age.
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