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Department of Labor Joins Other Agencies to Call for Fairness in Use of AI

Department underscores importance of employers’ responsibilities as automated technologies advance.

April 9, 2024

A year after other federal departments and agencies issued a statement on artificial intelligence (AI), the U.S. Department of Labor has joined them calling for fairness, equality, justice and compliance as automated systems become more commonly used. The department also emphasized that existing legal authorities apply to the use of automated systems and new technologies as they apply to other practices.

In April 2023, the Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Federal Trade Commission issued a joint statement on enforcement efforts to protect the public from bias in automated systems and AI.

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and its Civil Rights Center (CRC) underscored the importance of employers’ and other users’ responsibility to ensure that the development and use of these quickly evolving technologies are consistent with federal law.

“The OFCCP is committed to resolving discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity as tools like AI become more commonly used,” said Michele Hodge, OFCCP acting director. “AI is not a stand-alone solution, and human oversight and interpretation are critical to ensuring the ethical and legal application of AI.”

“The CRC is mindful of increasingly rapid advancements in AI and automated systems, such as algorithm-based hiring applications,” said Naomi Barry-Pérez, CRC director. “We will act to ensure that such developments in the public workforce development system do not violate workers’ civil rights protections.”

The updated joint statement includes examples of OFCCP’s efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity, including a FAQ on the Validation of Employee Selection Procedures. The FAQ explains that the agency will analyze federal contractors’ use of AI-based selection procedures to ensure they align with other selection practices.

To better identify discrimination related to AI and other automated systems, OFCCP recently updated its compliance review process to require documentation on policies, practices and systems used by federal contractors to recruit, screen and hire, including the use of AI, algorithms, automated systems, or other technology-based selection procedures. The updated statement will also reflect CRC’s enforcement authority related to AI and automated systems’ use.

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