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Software tools can contribute to disability discrimination

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2022 | Employer Law (Employer)

Expanding opportunities for individuals with disabilities requires employers to navigate numerous issues: interview questions, providing for reasonable accommodations upon an employee’s request, and maintaining confidentiality. Businesses, however, continue to incorporate technology to expedite and reduce the costs of almost every employment decision. The collision between software tools important for business operations complicates an already multi-layered determination of disability discrimination.

Government agencies offer guidance for employers and employees

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines discrimination on the basis of disability in detail. In Pennsylvania, the ADA is enforced primarily by the Civil Rights Enforcement Section and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Software tools such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) could inadvertently remove qualified applicants with a disability in any number of ways. Otherwise -prohibited inquiries regarding medical examinations or present disabilities could screen out candidates. AI could omit considerations for reasonable accommodations when assessing performance reviews for promotions.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have published separate but similar documents designed to guide businesses in their selection of AI. The DOJ publication focuses on employer concerns, including but not limited to, the types of AI employers generally use and how AI selection may impact disabled applicants and employees. The EEOC uses ADA guidelines to focus on employment areas governed by federal laws the agency enforces as well as a summary for employees and job applicants.

Perspective matters

The laws regarding legal discrimination require specific elements of proof. The evolution of business needs changes not only how employers and employees interact but how to determine whether employers have discriminated based on disability under the ADA. Attorneys who understand how technology impacts the legal relationship between employers and employees can offer guidance.