Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is a modern-day phenomenon that is redefining the world as we know it. As we continue to make strides toward self-driving cars, home robots, and other technological advances that were once unfathomable, the groundbreaking impacts of AI on the world as we know it has already begun to take effect.
A primary area that the rise of AI has largely impacted is the workforce—namely, the labor and employment laws in place to protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and other forms of harm in the workplace. Unfortunately, a lack of federal regulations around AI use has already opened the door to lawsuits as we continue into 2023, especially when it comes to workers’ rights.
How can California employees adjust to the rise of a new digital era without sacrificing their right to a safe and non-discriminatory work environment? In this blog, we'll review the potential impacts of AI on the California workforce and highlight potential employment law violations so employees can exercise their rights accordingly.
What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence or AI is intended to enable machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks that typically require human-like intelligence. These tasks can engage various capabilities, such as problem-solving, learning, planning, understanding language, and recognizing patterns. Examples of AI technology include chess-playing computers and self-driving cars, which rely on deep learning and natural language processing.
Despite its potential benefits, AI poses unique challenges, including the risk of job displacement, privacy issues, and illegal discrimination. Because the world has a long way to go to develop regulatory frameworks that effectively govern the use of AI in various sectors, including employment, it’s critical for California workers to have a comprehensive understanding of their rights in the workplace and exercise them as needed during the continued rise of AI.
4 Negative Effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Employees
The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on labor laws is a complex and multifaceted issue. As AI technology evolves and becomes more prevalent in the workplace, it can bring both opportunities and challenges. Although AI can be an excellent tool to make groundbreaking strides in professional fields, there are many instances in which AI usage can be considered unlawful—especially when it comes to employment law.
Considering that the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that approximately 70% of companies will adopt at least one type of AI technology by 2030, workers will inevitably benefit from familiarizing themselves with common violations related to AI use to ensure that unethical employers are held accountable for their actions.
Consider these four common issues that AI can lead to in the workplace:
1. Job Displacement
A recent report indicates that generative AI tools could impact as many as 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, leading to significant disruption in the job market. Another report by the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs also predicts substantial job losses due to AI and other economic drivers, estimating 83 million job losses over the next five years.
While these numbers can be alarming to employees, AI is also predicted to generate new jobs in other fields, including big data, machine learning, information security, and digital marketing. But it’s worth noting that the transition will not be easy, especially for workers in low-rung or low-skill jobs. At the end of the day, disadvantaged groups—including disabled workers, employees who identify as queer or transgender, people of color, and women—will be more vulnerable to job loss and reap significant challenges compared to non-disadvantaged groups.
2. Employment Discrimination
A primary potential outcome of AI in employment entails an increased risk of adverse consequences for employees with certain protected characteristics. For instance, an AI tool may inadvertently discriminate against certain groups when analyzing resumes or making hiring decisions, such as people of color or applicants who identify as queer or neurodivergent.
While AI as a technological concept is not inherently biased, such technologies can develop biases through machine learning applications, making it all the more crucial for wronged workers to speak up against workplace discrimination and understand what constitutes Title VII violations. According to the EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of certain protected classes, including:
- National origin
Employment discrimination is a significant risk of AI use by employers. When companies fail to meet their ethical and legal obligations under the law—for example, failing to understand the functionality of AI algorithms or not recognizing discriminatory violations caused by AI use—this opens the door to employment lawsuits. It's essential for employees to speak out against discrimination in the workplace to prevent further harm and hold companies accountable.
3. Disability Discrimination
Disabled individuals are entitled to certain rights in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unfortunately, AI has the potential to violate disability discrimination laws in the workplace as well. Under the ADA and EEOC, using algorithms and artificial intelligence in hiring and other employment decisions can lead to disability discrimination. For instance, an ADA violation can result if an employer uses an algorithmic AI tool that asks disability-related inquiries or seeks information about a person's disability status.
Another example is an employer’s use of a video interview system that analyzes an applicant's speech patterns to determine problem-solving abilities; in such cases, a disabled candidate with a speech impediment might be automatically—and unlawfully—screened out. Moreover, if an employer fails to provide “reasonable accommodations” for disabled workers under the ADA by relying on AI software, this may also lead to employment violations.
Put simply, if AI is used in any manner that violates any regulation under the ADA, disabled employees have the right to file a report and collect the compensation they deserve.
4. FCRA Violations
Many vendors and employers in California utilize official background checks to vet applicants and filter candidates for open positions during hiring. Unfortunately, AI can result in biases and discrimination in hiring practices explicitly prohibited under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law enacted to ensure fairness, accuracy, and privacy of personal information.
Experienced Representation for Wronged Employees in CA
Our experienced employment law attorney has over 25 years of experience representing wronged workers in Monterey County. Polaris Law Group, LLP has the in-depth knowledge and legal skillset to advocate effectively on your behalf, and our determined team will stop at nothing to secure the compensation you deserve after experiencing mistreatment or injustice in the workplace. Whether you intend to file a report of employer retaliation or dispute a wrongful termination, you can trust Attorney Bill Marder to represent your best interests in court from start to finish.
If an unethical employer violated your employee rights, call (888) 796-4010 to schedule a free consultation with our seasoned employment lawyer.