Workday should face lawsuit alleging its AI screening tool is biased, EEOC argues

HR vendor Workday should have to face claims that it offers a biased algorithm-based applicant screening system, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission told a court last week.

In a potential class action filed last year, an individual alleged Workday allowed employers to preselect applicants outside of protected categories, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The software company asked the court to dismiss the claims, arguing that it is not an employer — or an employment agency or labor organization — that can be held liable for such alleged Title VII violations.

EEOC last week urged the court to reach the opposite conclusion. If Workday’s algorithmic tools — powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning — made automated decisions on behalf of employers to reject certain candidates, “Workday is a type of intermediary that a Congress meant federal anti-discrimination laws to cover,” the agency said.

A Workday spokesperson said the company believes the lawsuit is without merit and denies the allegations. “Workday is a technology company — not an employment agency,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We do not have oversight or control of our customers’ job application processes, and likewise, our customers do not delegate control to us in regards to their hiring processes.”

The court is scheduled to hear Workday’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit May 7.