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Cardozo Law Review




Cardozo L. Rev.

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A received wisdom is that automated decision-making serves as an anti-bias intervention. The conceit is that removing humans from the decision-making process will also eliminate human bias. The paradox, however, is that in some instances, automated decision-making has served to replicate and amplify bias. With a case study of the algorithmic capture of hiring as a heuristic device, this Article provides a taxonomy of problematic features associated with algorithmic decision-making as anti-bias intervention and argues that those features are at odds with the fundamental principle of equal opportunity in employment. To examine these problematic features within the context of algorithmic hiring and to explore potential legal approaches to rectifying them, the Article brings together two streams of legal scholarship: law & technology studies and employment & labor law.

Counterintuitively, the Article contends that the framing of algorithmic bias as a technical problem is misguided. Rather, the Article’s central claim is that bias is introduced in the hiring process, in large part, due to an American legal tradition of deference to employers, especially allowing for such nebulous hiring criterion as “cultural fit.” The Article observes the lack of legal frameworks to account for the emerging technological capabilities of hiring tools which make it difficult to detect bias. The Article discusses several new approaches to hold liable for employment discrimination both employers and makers of algorithmic hiring systems. Particularly related to Title VII, the Article proposes that in legal reasoning corollary to extant tort doctrines, an employer’s failure to audit and correct its automated hiring platforms for disparate impact should serve as prima facie evidence of discriminatory intent, for the proposed new doctrine of discrimination per se. The Article also considers approaches separate from employment law, such as establishing consumer legal protections for job applicants that would mandate their access to the dossier of information consulted by automated hiring systems in making the employment decision.

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