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New Jersey Bill Targets Bias in Use of AI in Hiring

New Jersey Bill Targets Bias in Use of AI in Hiring

Employers in recent years have made increased use of artificial intelligence in recruitment and hiring. There is growing reliance on AI tools to sort through large volumes of applicants and winnow them down to short lists of suitable candidates. However, critics have pointed out the danger of these systems producing discriminatory results. New Jersey legislators are advancing a measure that would address this concern by imposing restrictions on the use of AI-powered hiring software.

A pending bill, A-4909, would mandate a “bias audit” to ensure that automated employment decision tools do not perpetuate discrimination in hiring decisions. The bill defines these tools as systems that use learning algorithms to automatically filter candidates or prospective candidates for hire or for any term, condition or privilege of employment.

Discrimination in hiring is illegal in New Jersey if based on applicants’ personal characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Learning algorithms can sometimes favor candidates whose credentials match those of earlier hires, thereby rejecting candidates with different backgrounds. This may result in inadvertently perpetuating existing biases.

The proposed legislation provides that automated employment decision tools must undergo a round of testing before being used by employers. The sale of such a tool in the state would be prohibited unless:

  • The tool is the subject of a bias audit conducted in the past year prior to its being sold or offered for sale.
  • The sale of the tool includes, at no additional cost, an annual bias audit service that provides the results of the audit to the purchasing. Employer.
  • The tool is sold or offered for sale with a notice stating that the tool is subject to the provisions of the new law.

The bill also would place obligations on employers. Within 30 days of using an automated employment decision tool, an employer would have to notify candidates that the tool assessed their job qualifications or characteristics. The employer also would have to disclose that the tool was subject to a bias audit. Employers failing to make the required notifications would face fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 for each violation.

As of now, the bill is under review by the state Assembly Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee. The Assembly Labor Committee has already approved it.

If the bill becomes law, it will add to the protections New Jersey already has in place against illegal bias in job recruitment and hiring. If you believe you are facing such mistreatment, an experienced employment discrimination attorney can analyze your situation and take appropriate legal action.

Kevin T. Kutyla, Esq. in Succasunna helps employees in Sussex County, Morris County and across New Jersey protect themselves against all forms of employment discrimination. Call 973-940-8970 or contact me online for a confidential initial consultation.