Understanding AI in the Workplace: How it Affects You and Your Rights

Jul 19, 2023

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is becoming a common tool in many workplaces, used for everything from hiring decisions to monitoring employees. But what does that mean for you as an employee? Let's dig a little deeper into some key issues.

#1. Uncovering Bias in AI: 

AI programs are like sponges – they soak up information and learn from it. But if they learn from biased data, the AI can also become biased. Let's say a company has previously hired more people living closer to the office. If an AI uses this data to make hiring decisions, it might end up rejecting applications from qualified candidates who live farther away. Now imagine that a lot of Hispanic people happen to live in the farther away area. In that case, the AI’s bias toward closer people may be implicitly discriminating against the Hispanic people who live further away.

#2. Decoding Overfitting:

When AI gets too focused on specifics and misses the bigger picture, we call this "overfitting." Imagine if you learned to recognize dogs by looking at only poodles. You might not recognize a bulldog as a dog! AI can make the same kind of mistake, potentially rejecting a qualified candidate because they don't fit the overly-specific pattern it's learned. For example, if a company has a history of hiring more people with “male” sounding names, it may implicitly discriminate against women with “female” sounding names. These errors could be seen as a breach of fairness in the hiring process and could open companies up to legal challenges.

#3. The Mystery of the "Black Box":

Sometimes AI makes decisions that are hard to understand. This is often referred to as the "black box" problem. It's like a magic trick where data goes in, and a decision comes out, but the steps in between aren't clear. This lack of transparency can make it difficult to challenge unfair decisions, but it's important to remember that even AI decisions can be examined and contested in court.

#4. Safeguarding Your Privacy:

Workplace AI can collect a lot of data about you, tracking everything from your work activities to your physical location. This can raise serious privacy concerns, especially if personal information is being used without your knowledge or consent. Privacy violations in the workplace can be a serious matter and can potentially lead to legal action.

The bottom line is that while AI can be a useful tool, it's not infallible. Mistakes and biases in AI systems shouldn't cost you your job or your rights. Understanding the impact of AI on your workplace is the first step in protecting yourself and asserting your rights.

If you think your employer is using AI inappropriately, reach out to Community Law Office at (319) 200-7050 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Of fill out the online intake form here.

(Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.)