What the Mobley v. Workday Class-Action Lawsuit Means For You 

A class-action lawsuit being tried right now brings attention to the use of artificial intelligence in hiring practices, particularly concerning its potential to facilitate discriminatory outcomes. 

Mobley v. Workday alleges that the AI-driven hiring tools that Workday uses result in discriminatory screening against African-Americans, individuals older than 40, and those with disabilities, violating Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, as well as California state law. 

The EEOC emphasizes the potential for direct liability for AI vendors, akin to traditional employment agencies. This lawsuit underscores the importance of compliance and risk management for employers and AI vendors, given the evolving legal landscape surrounding this tech’s role in recruitment.

This case is particularly significant for HR leaders and employers. It signals a new frontier in employment law, emphasizing the importance of compliance and the potential risks associated with using AI tools in recruitment.

The Allegations and EEOC Involvement

The lawsuit alleges that Workday, an HR software company, has algorithms that lead to biased hiring decisions. 

The EEOC has taken a novel stance by filing an amicus brief supporting the plaintiff, asserting that AI vendors can bear direct liability under federal anti-discrimination laws, similar to traditional employment agencies.

This is something to be aware of with all the software you use in your hiring process, including vendors and AI tools. 

Implications for HR Leaders and Employers

The involvement from EEOC in this case has significant implications for HR leaders and employers:

  1. Compliance: The position of the EEOC emphasizes compliance in AI-driven hiring processes. Employers and vendors must ensure their AI tools do not result in inadvertently discriminatory practices. This includes regularly assessing AI-driven hiring processes to identify and address potential biases.
  2. Risk Management: The lawsuit highlights the potential legal risks of using AI in recruitment. Employers and vendors must recognize that this could increase scrutiny and potential litigation. Companies should adopt proactive measures to mitigate these risks, such as involving HR personnel in decision-making to complement AI-generated recommendations.

Despite the risks, AI can be a powerful tool in recruitment when used responsibly. For instance, assessments and algorithms can streamline the hiring process, provided human judgment is incorporated to ensure balanced decisions. Ensure you have a process to evaluate the software you use. 

Future of AI in Employment

The Mobley v. Workday case underscores the growing focus on AI in employment, both at the federal and state levels:

  1. Federal Focus: The ongoing interest in AI is part of a broader federal effort to regulate and manage AI. President Biden’s executive order outlines a comprehensive approach to AI regulation, including developing best practices for mitigating AI’s potential employee harm. This regulatory focus will likely lead to increased scrutiny and potential guidance from the Department of Labor and other agencies.
  2. State and Local Laws: Employers and vendors must also navigate an evolving web of state and local laws regulating AI in hiring, further complicating the compliance landscape.

Mobley v. Workday Is Pivotal

The Mobley v. Workday class-action lawsuit is pivotal for HR professionals and employers. It emphasizes the importance of compliance, the potential risks associated with AI-driven hiring, and the need for balanced decision-making processes. 

As the legal landscape evolves, organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in managing the intersection of technology and employment law.

This article should not be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Employers should consult their own attorneys about their compliance responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state law.


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