Monday, July 13, 2015

That is SO last week

Last week, The New York Times’ The Upshot blog covered a topic that has been one of our top concerns for a while: how big data can discriminate.  The post followed a Carnegie Mellon University study that reported, among many examples, that Google’s search algorithm displays more prestigious job listings to men than to women.
Big data and data analytics provide employers with useful and apparently unbiased tools for a variety of uses – finding the right person for a job, determining if an employee is about to resign, or determining if trade secrets are walking out the door.  The algorithms used, however, learn from human behavior and reflect how people make decisions.  With unconscious bias at play, these decisions can be discriminatory.  A discrimination law professor at the University of California, Berkeley described the issue this way: “Even if they are not designed with the intent of discriminating against those groups, if they reproduce social preferences even in a completely rational way, they also reproduce those forms of discrimination.”  Employers using algorithms to make personnel decisions should be cautious and should note that the EEOC is paying attention.
Discrimination
  • Providing a reminder and lesson for all employers, the EEOC sued a janitorial and facilities management company for failing to maintain recruitment records, including records of criminal background checks.
  • Daniel Schwartz cautioned companies about inviting spouses and other family members to a job interview.
  • Jon Hyman explained that even though there may be rigid laws and complex analysis required, courts often consider the inequities in sex discrimination lawsuits.
  • A grocer will pay $200,000 to settle sex discrimination claims brought by the EEOC after it refused to hire women as night stockers.
Technology
  • The use of online dating technology has invaded recruiting through the app called Jobsuitors.  The app uses dating-like algorithms to match candidates to jobs.
  • As a way to eliminate the paperwork of human resources processes, small businesses are turning to HR technology.
  • Mike VanDervort described how one woman’s selfie changed the outcome of a National Labor Relations Act election.
  • With more data and data-driven initiatives, an understanding of data analysis and strategy is becoming an essential skill for human resources professionals.
  • The Director of the Office of Personnel Management resigned following the U.S. government’s largest data breach, which affected 21.5 million current and former federal workers.
  • The Washington Post reported that technology could kill the art of lying.
  • With the “war for talent” ever increasing, companies are focusing on employee engagement technology, including apps that measure employee happiness.
  • Meghan M. Biro covered ten facets of culture and how HR technology is essential to the success of any organization. 
  • Personnel Today discussed what employers need to know about wearables in the workplace.
Wage and Hour
  • Uber responded to a potential class action over the status of its workers, arguing its drivers are independent contractors.
  • HR Bartender discussed reimbursing employee expenses and the final paycheck.
Posted by Kate Bischoff
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