EEOC Hearing Explores Potential Benefits And Harms Of AI And Other Automated Systems In Employment Decisions


The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public hearing to examine the use of automated systems, including artificial intelligence (AI), in employment decisions. Increasingly, employers are using automated systems to make employment decisions, including the recruitment, hiring, monitoring, and firing of workers.

During the hearing, titled “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier,” the Commission heard from witnesses ranging from computer scientists, civil rights advocates, legal experts, industrial-organizational psychologist, and employer representatives.

“The use and complexity of technology in employment decisions is increasing over time,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.  “The goals of this hearing were to both educate a broader audience about the civil rights implications of the use of these technologies and to identify next steps that the Commission can take to prevent and eliminate unlawful bias in employers’ use of these automated technologies. We will continue to educate employers, workers and other stakeholders on the potential for unlawful bias so that these systems do not become high-tech pathways to discrimination.”

The witnesses discussed how discrimination may occur when employers use automated systems. The discussion also included ways in which AI and automated systems in the workplace might support or hinder diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts, 

This hearing continues the work of the EEOC’s AI and Algorithmic Fairness Initiative, an agency-wide initiative to ensure that the use of software, including AI and other emerging technologies used in hiring and other employment decisions, comply with the federal civil rights laws that the EEOC enforces. As a part of this initiative, the EEOC published a technical assistance document titled The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Use of Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence to Assess Job Applicants and Employees. The Commission’s last hearing on this subject was in 2016, when the agency explored the implications of big data in the workplace. Today’s hearing focused on ensuring that the agency responds to the latest developments in the use of automated technology in employment.

The 12 witnesses included experts from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Brown University, Washington University School of Law, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, the Brookings Institution, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), University of North Carolina School of Law, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Nancy T. Tippins Group LLC, Outten & Golden LLP, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

Almost 2,950 members of the public attended Tuesday’s hearing.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at


The Camaraderie And Relationships We Build Will Last A Lifetime– Kris Onda

One of the best attributes of my job is being there for the cooperative’s members and supplying them with electricity, says KRIS ONDA.

Early Years

As I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and policing, I worked maintenance on conveyor belts for Freeport McMoRan in Morenci, Arizona. At that point in time, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go into law enforcement or stay working on the belt lines. I learned about line work from a journeyman lineman I met at a get-together with friends. He told me that while it’s not an easy job, if you like climbing high, working hard and feeling accomplishment at the end of the day, it’s the job for you. He put in a good word with my boss, and with some previous experience, I was able to get hired on. The adrenaline from climbing a 110-ft pole, being 200 ft up in the air over a benched high wall in the pit of the mine working on power lines or hauling poles around the giant haul trucks in the mine was so intense.

Day in the Life

I am a second-step apprentice for CORE in Conifer, Colorado, and I am responsible for getting parts stocked up on the trucks, icing up the coolers and keeping equipment and vehicles cleaned up and ready to roll. On a typical day, we set new poles, hang transformers or respond to outages. We are also upgrading our system with wildlife and fire mitigation equipment and replacing old equipment, hardware and insulating wire to try and keep everything as reliable and safe as possible.

Challenges and Rewards

The major challenges of my job consist mostly of terrain and weather. In our service territory, some houses are built on the steep mountains, and mixed with 75 mph winds, trees, snow, ice, and the public, you never know what might happen. The rewards always come through when you can get the members’ power back on. I remember one time we had a big storm hit and had a couple thousand people out of power. We responded to a single outage down this dirt road in the forest. When we started clearing the trees from the service wire and respliced the broken phase, an older gentleman came out to say thank you. His oxygen would have run out had the power been off any longer. It felt good to know we really helped him out.

 Safety Lesson

Job site safety has always been important to me and my coworkers, but it wasn’t something that really hit home until I had my son. The importance of him growing up with a dad and being able to be there for him every step of the way has really shaped my safety culture now. I want to be the best dad I can be and getting home every day to him is where it starts. I always try to think about the outcome of every move, and I am not afraid to ask for help or stop a job if I feel it is unsafe.

 Memorable Storm

My most memorable storm memory was when 18 in. of snow fell in Colorado, and we worked all night to get the power back on. A tree fell on top of a power line, and I had to tread through the snow into the fast-moving shallow river to cut the tree out of the line. Fuses were blowing all over the place due to the snow load, and trees were falling on lines and snapping poles. Our office plus linemen from three districts worked together to get our members back on as soon as possible.

Plans for the Future

I look back and think about if I had only gone into the power industry sooner. When I was graduating from high school, everyone was so set on pushing kids into college and getting a degree. I never heard about trade schools, and if I would have gone straight into line work, I would be a lot further in. my career. I hope to one day go into management and learn the other side of the operations, but that’s many years down the road. I have had many great mentors, and this trade is filled with so many good people who only want you to succeed. The camaraderie and relationships you build will last a lifetime. This field isn’t easy and having the support from everyone makes a huge difference.

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