Artificial intelligence a concern for discrimination in the job market


By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer

Artificial intelligence is increasingly playing a role in hiring practices today.
Artificial intelligence is increasingly playing a role in hiring practices today.

REGION – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often enjoyed through the lens of a movie or television series. Photo manipulation is also a favorite pastime on social media platforms, but is the use of artificial intelligence becoming a real threat when it comes to jobs, especially for older people? Job seekers are already witnesses to technology taking over some positions such as cashiers by way of self-checkout kiosks.


Computer algorithms instead of human review

Many employers are using AI and automation for hiring practices these days. While it may save on physical demand and wage payouts, such technology has also been a detriment to household income. The U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance to employers on the usage of algorithmic tools which could also have the potential to run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now, there is a growing concern about AI and the inability to find employment due to feeling a hiring algorithm had discriminated against someone. This can be particularly hard on those who wish to work past traditional retirement age in order to save more money. Thankfully, there are law offices, such as the Renee Lazar Law Firm in Bedford, who assist clients who feel as though they have lost out on a job due to this type of discrimination. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated, “Algorithmic tools should not stand as a barrier for people with disabilities seeking access to jobs.”


Legislature introduces bill to help

Aside from a disability and according to a Gallup poll, a large number of people want to work past traditional retirement age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers 75 and older is expected to continue to grow. Earlier this year, as it became more noticeable how AI was quickly advancing, several bills were introduced before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity.

Massachusetts State Representative Sean Garballey and Sen. Jason Lewis’ bill (H 64/S 33) is supported by Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Fitzgerald told the committee, “The problem we face with AI today is that it’s being used broadly in society to replace human decision-making with little to no rules about testing these systems for accuracy, effectiveness, or bias. And that has real tangible harms.”

The Garballey and Lewis bill would create a commission to study the use of automated decision-making by government agencies and require the commission to create a catalog of the AI systems being used across state government and make that list public. The commission would also advise the legislature on regulations to put in place.

What older workers can offer

Meanwhile, it is important to remember that AI cannot replace sought-after skills that older workers often possess. Skills like critical thinking, dedication, dependability, problem-solving, time management and discipline still hold great value. Nevertheless, being past the age of 50 does not mean the capability to keep up with technology is dead and done. CVS Health has developed a Talent Is Ageless program that is designed to recruit mature workers and includes options like flextime, compressed workweeks, job sharing and telecommuting.

Through its “Discovering You!” training module, older employees have the opportunity to further their career through education and help inspire colleagues to follow suit, and a quarter of the company’s employees are over the age of 50. CVS also has ongoing partnerships with organizations that include the American Society on Aging, National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc., and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. There are approximately 356 CVS stores located throughout the state of Massachusetts.



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