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Legislation looks to protect workers from being managed by AI

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Senate proposes AI workplace protections

U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have put forth two new legislative proposals concerning the use of artificial intelligence and bots in the workplace.

The first bill, known as the “No Robot Bosses Act,” was introduced in the previous week with the aim of safeguarding job applicants and workers from potential misuse of automated decision systems by employers. These systems include AI algorithms that are used for making critical employment decisions such as hiring, disciplinary actions, and firing. The primary goal of this legislation is to ensure that workers’ rights, autonomy, and dignity are protected, and that discriminatory decisions and hazardous working conditions arising from the use of algorithms are prevented.

Senator Casey emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue as corporations increasingly rely on artificial intelligence for workforce management, and he stressed the need to shield working families from potential harm caused by the misuse and abuse of these new technologies.

Additionally, New York City has already enacted a law regulating the use of automated employment decision tools (AEDTs) as of July 5. Employers who use AI tools for hiring decisions are now obligated to disclose this fact to candidates.

In parallel, Senators Casey, Schatz, and Cory Booker (D-NJ) jointly introduced the “Exploitative Workplace Surveillance and Technologies Task Force Act.” This legislation proposes the establishment of an interagency task force that will examine and report on workplace surveillance practices.

The proposed bills received positive feedback from various stakeholders. The National Employment Law Project expressed support on Facebook, emphasizing the critical importance of safeguarding workers’ rights. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) also backed the “No Robot Bosses Act,” stating that it would protect and empower workers by preventing exclusive reliance on AI or bots for employment decisions.

According to Frank Gilbert, a cyberpsychology research assistant at Norfolk State University, these legislative measures address not only AI governance but also the basic ethical behavior needed for a decent human approach in implementing technology.

Earlier, in February, Senators Casey, Booker, and Schatz introduced the “Stop Spying Bosses Act.” This legislation aims to protect workers from invasive and exploitative surveillance technologies, including data collection that hinders union organizing. It would also create a new Technology and Worker Protection Division within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to enforce and regulate workplace surveillance, including novel and emerging technologies.

A previous report indicated that when employee monitoring tools are in use, there is an increase in employees quitting (28%) and difficulties in hiring new employees (27%), highlighting the potential negative impact of surveillance practices on workers’ morale and hiring processes.

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