California Proposes New Regulations to Address AI-Related Employment Discrimination

Published On: June 20, 2024

The State of California has proposed regulations to combat employment discrimination arising from the use of artificial intelligence and other automated decision-making systems.  The California Civil Rights Council initiated the regulations through the Administrative Procedure Act. 

The California Civil Rights Department (CRD), responsible for enforcing the state’s civil rights laws in areas such as employment, housing, businesses, public accommodations, and state-funded programs, oversees the Civil Rights Council. The proposed regulations result from extensive public discussions, including a hearing in April 2021, and incorporate feedback from experts, the public, and federal guidance.   The deadline to submit comments is July 18th.

Automated decision-making systems, driven by algorithms or artificial intelligence, are increasingly prevalent in employment settings, aiding decisions related to job applicants and employees, such as recruitment, hiring, and promotion. 

“Employers are increasingly using artificial intelligence and other technologies to make employment decisions—from recruitment and hiring to promotion and retention,” Hellen Hong, a member of the Civil Rights Council, said in a press release. “While these tools can bring a range of benefits, they can also contribute to and further perpetuate bias and discrimination based on protected characteristics. The proposed regulations clarify how existing rules protecting against employment discrimination apply to these emerging technologies.”

Some of the main points from the proposed regulations include: Clarifying that the use of automated decision-making systems that harm applicants or employees based on protected characteristics is a violation of California law, affirming that automated decision-making systems do not eliminate the need for individualized assessments when considering an applicant’s criminal history, and prohibiting third parties from aiding and abetting employment discrimination through the design, sale, or use of automated decision-making systems.

“Through advances in technology and artificial intelligence, we’re taking steps to tackle climate change, develop cutting-edge treatments in healthcare, and build the economy of tomorrow. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to ensure our laws keep pace and that we retain hard-won civil rights,” Civil Rights Department Director Kevin Kish said.

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org