Employers are more frequently relying on the use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) tools to automate employment decision-making, such as software that can review resumes and “chatbots” that interview and screen job applicants. We have previously blogged about the legal risks attendant to the use of such technologies, including here and here.

On May 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued long-awaited guidance on the use of such AI tools (the “Guidance”), examining how employers can seek to prevent AI-related disability discrimination. More specifically, the Guidance identifies a number of ways in which employment-related use of AI can, even unintentionally, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), including if:

  • (i) “[t]he employer does not provide a ‘reasonable accommodation’ that is necessary for a job applicant or employee to be rated fairly and accurately by” the AI;
  • (ii) “[t]he employer relies on an algorithmic decision-making tool that intentionally or unintentionally ‘screens out’ an individual with a disability, even though that individual is able to do the job with a reasonable accommodation”; or
  • (iii) “[t]he employer adopts an [AI] tool for use with its job applicants or employees that violates the ADA’s restrictions on disability-related inquiries and medical examinations.”

The Guidance further states that “[i]n many cases” employers are liable under the ADA for use of AI even if the tools are designed and administered by a separate vendor, noting that “employers may be held responsible for the actions of their agents . . . if the employer has given them authority to act on [its] behalf.”

The Guidance also identifies various best practices for employers, including:

  • Announcing generally that employees and applicants subject to an AI tool may request reasonable accommodations and providing instructions as to how to ask for accommodations.
  • Providing information about the AI tool, how it works, and what it is used for to the employees and applicants subjected to it. For example, an employer that uses keystroke-monitoring software may choose to disclose this software as part of new employees’ onboarding and explain that it is intended to measure employee productivity.
  • If the software was developed by a third party, asking the vendor whether: (i) the AI software was developed to accommodate people with disabilities, and if so, how; (ii) there are alternative formats available for disabled individuals; and (iii) the AI software asks questions likely to elicit medical or disability-related information.
  • If an employer is developing its own software, engaging experts to analyze the algorithm for potential biases at different steps of the development process, such as a psychologist if the tool is intended to test cognitive traits.
  • Only using AI tools that measure, directly, traits that are actually necessary for performing the job’s duties.
  • Additionally, it is always a best practice to train staff, especially supervisors and managers, how to recognize requests for reasonable accommodations and to respond promptly and effectively to those requests. If the AI tool is used by a third party on the employer’s behalf, that third party’s staff should also be trained to recognize requests for reasonable accommodation and forward them promptly to the employer.

Finally, also on May 12th, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released its own guidance on AI tools’ potential for inadvertent disability discrimination in the employment context. The DOJ guidance is largely in accord with the EEOC Guidance.

Employers utilizing AI tools should carefully audit them to ensure that this technology is not creating discriminatory outcomes.  Likewise, employers must remain closely apprised of any new developments from the EEOC and local, state, and federal legislatures and agencies as the trend toward regulation continues.

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Photo of Joseph O’Keefe Joseph O’Keefe

Joseph C. O’Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all…

Joseph C. O’Keefe is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and Co-Head of the Restrictive Covenants, Trade Secrets & Unfair Competition Group.

Joe is an experienced trial lawyer who, for more than 30 years, has litigated employment disputes of all types on behalf of employers, before federal and state courts, arbitral tribunals (e.g. FINRA and AAA), and state and federal administrative agencies throughout the U.S. Joe has litigated employment-related lawsuits alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblowing, wage and hour violations, Title IX violations, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business related torts. Joe’s practice includes representing clients in complex class and collective litigation, including alleged violation of state and federal pay equity laws, violations of wage and hour laws and discrimination claims. Joe’s experience includes appellate work in both federal and state courts.

In addition to his extensive litigation practice, Joe regularly advises employers, writes and speaks on a wide range of employment related issues. He counsels clients concerning pay equity, use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, management of personnel problems, ADA/FMLA compliance, reductions in force, investigation of employee complaints, state and federal leave laws, wage and hour issues, employment policies and contracts.

Joe represents employers in a variety of industries including financial services, higher education (colleges and universities), pharmaceuticals/medical devices, health care, technology, communications, fashion, consumer products, publishing, media and real estate. He frequently writes articles concerning developments in the law and speaks at seminars concerning legal developments in the labor and employment law field.

Photo of Edward Young Edward Young

Edward “Eddie” C. Young is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the following Firm practice groups: Restrictive Covenants & Trade Secrets; Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII; and Whistleblowing & Retaliation.

Eddie represents employers in all…

Edward “Eddie” C. Young is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the following Firm practice groups: Restrictive Covenants & Trade Secrets; Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII; and Whistleblowing & Retaliation.

Eddie represents employers in all aspects of employment law, with a concentration on litigating complex employment disputes of all types before federal and state courts throughout the country, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, state and local human rights commissions and arbitral tribunals (e.g., FINRA and AAA).  In particular, Eddie has successfully litigated employment-related disputes alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, wage and hour violations, including employee misclassification claims, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business-related torts.  Eddie has obtained a world-wide injunction to enforce a client’s non-competition restriction on a former executive, successfully defended a client through summary judgment and appeal against retaliation claims brought by a former General Counsel, represented Fortune 500 companies in defense of high-profile harassment claims associated with the #metoo movement, and provided representation to several professional sports leagues.  He also has significant appellate experience, including successfully representing clients before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First, Second and Seventh Circuits, as well as before the United States Supreme Court.  Eddie often draws on his litigation experience to help clients avoid the courtroom by effectuating positive change in the workplace through impactful training, counseling and developing robust employment policies.

Working in a wide range of industries, Eddie represented clients in food services, financial services, medical devices, telecommunications, higher education, sports, retail, real estate and others.

Eddie has been recognized as “One to Watch” by Best Lawyers in America since 2021 and as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers since 2017. He also regularly advises clients, writes and speaks on cutting-edge legal issues, including the use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, and legal issues arising from the collection and use of employee biometric information.

Eddie maintains an active pro bono practice, including on-going representation of a certified class of approximately 65,000 visually disabled Chicagoans in litigation challenging the City’s lack of accessible pedestrian crosswalks.  Eddie is also a member of the Firm’s Pro-Bono Committee and is a three-time recipient of the Firm’s “Golden Gavel” award for his significant pro bono contributions.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Eddie was a cum laude graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business. He began his practice at a national management-side employment law firm, and has also worked in the corporate human resources department of a national tax consulting firm and as a Fellow with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Photo of Dixie Morrison Dixie Morrison

Dixie Morrison is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She is a member of the Discrimination, Harassment, & Title VII and the Labor-Management Relations practice groups.

Dixie assists clients across a…

Dixie Morrison is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She is a member of the Discrimination, Harassment, & Title VII and the Labor-Management Relations practice groups.

Dixie assists clients across a variety of industries in litigation and arbitration relating to wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, trade secrets, breach of contract, and whistleblower matters in both the single-plaintiff and class and collective action contexts. She also maintains an active traditional labor and collective bargaining practice and regularly counsels employers on a diverse range of workplace issues.

Dixie earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was the Executive Editor of Submissions for the Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law. Dixie received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Pomona College. Prior to law school, she served as a labor and economic policy aide in the United States Senate.