In response to the #MeToo movement, companies across the United States and Europe are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect workplace harassment that occurs over digital communications. Is this an effective solution for reducing gender-based discrimination?
Leora Eisenstadt, associate professor of legal studies and director of the Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture, researches the impact of moving away from a human reporting system for discrimination. While it is true that digital communications is increasingly a platform where workplace harassment happens, Eisenstadt finds that using AI fails to address workplace culture at its core and leaves both employers and employees at risk.
Many AI algorithms are highly imperfect at catching legal discrimination, leaving employers who claim to be monitoring communication platforms liable for all the harassment they did not catch. Meanwhile, an AI reporting system results in employees who were harassed losing legal protections granted by Title VII. Unless the victim comes forward for themself, they are not privy to key legal protections given specifically to victims who report harassment to leadership.