Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

In November 2021, the New York City (NYC) Council passed a measure Int. No. 1894-A that will require employers that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of an automated employment decision tool to promote or screen job candidates to undergo a “bias audit” every year. The local law will take effect on January 2, 2023.

The bill would also require candidates or employees to be notified about the use of automated employment decision tools for hire or promotion, and about the job qualifications and characteristics used by the tool. Violators would be subject to civil penalties of $500 for first-time violations and up to $1,500 for repeat offenses.

An “automated employment decision tool” is a tool that automates, supports, substantially assists, or replaces discretionary decision-making processes and materially impacts natural persons, such as a junk email filter, firewall, antivirus software, calculator, spreadsheet, database, data set, or other compilation of data.

The “bias audit” would be an impartial evaluation by an independent auditor that would include but not be limited to the testing of an automated employment decision tool to assess the tool’s disparate impact on protected persons and to test whether the AI tool discriminates on the basis of race, sex, or other protected categories.

In October 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – a government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – launched an initiative to ensure that AI tools used in hiring and other employment decisions comply with federal civil rights laws that the agency enforces.

“Artificial intelligence and algorithmic decision-making tools have great potential to improve our lives, including in the area of employment. At the same time, the EEOC is keenly aware that these tools may mask and perpetuate bias or create new discriminatory barriers to jobs,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows stated in a press release.

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