Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights
Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights

Do algorithms discriminate against workers?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2022 | Employment Law

Using automation tools in employment decisions can remove some of the more personal, subjective elements of hiring, promoting and terminating workers. While this can give some employers peace of mind and make it easier to make tough choices, issues can still arise when things like algorithms turn out to be unfair.

Job ad posting complaints

Gone are the days of putting an ad in a local newspaper hoping to get the attention of the right candidate. Today, people post job ads online with sites like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, relying on these platforms to put the ads in front of the best candidates.

However, these businesses often utilize algorithms to automate the process and deliver relevant, targeted results to job seekers. And as one recent complaint asserts, these algorithms can discriminate against certain people.

The complaint, filed by a nonprofit women’s truckers association, accuses Facebook of selecting an algorithm that disproportionately showed certain job ads to men and people under 55. This algorithmic bias occurred despite employers’ requests for ads to be seen by people of all ages and genders.

This is not the first complaint against Facebook, and it likely will not be the last unless the company – and others like it – takes more meaningful steps to prevent and identify algorithmic bias. Until then, job seekers could be missing out on opportunities simply because an algorithm chose not to show them certain ads.

What can workers do?

Job seekers may not necessarily know they are the victim of discrimination by an algorithm. However, if there is reason to suspect certain employers or other parties are treating some people unfairly due to their race, gender, age, religion or other protected trait, seeking legal counsel can be crucial. 

Whether a person or machine discriminates against workers, it is illegal in Michigan. When a member of a protected class is fired, denied a promotion, not hired or otherwise mistreated, they can seek legal guidance to pursue justice.