Harassment interviews conducted by AI?

No. Heck, no.

Bloomberg BNA's Daily Labor Report had a story this week about the development of artificial intelligence to conduct interviews of employees who claim to have been victims of workplace harassment.

Could this idea be any worse? Probably. Throwing all harassment complaints in the trash and summarily firing the complainants is a worse idea.

But there isn't much worse than having a harassment interview conducted by AI. Of course, it may be necessary for an employee to make an initial complaint through a hotline and a recorded message. But in our primitive age, the initial complaint is followed by an interview conducted in real time by a human being. Preferably someone in Human Resources, who actually knows what they're doing.

Humans have a number of advantages over AI. Eye contact. Empathy. Ability to follow up wherever the conversation may lead. Ability to assess credibility.

Based on my not-so-hot experience with phone menus and chat bots, here is the way I would expect an AI harassment interview to go:

Sirexa is typing . . .

"Hi! Welcome to the Company harassment complaint center. I'm Sirexa, and I hope you are having a great day! How can I help you?"

"Well, my supervisor told me to have sex with him or he'd fire me."

"That is not OK! Harassment violates Company policy. Can you tell me more?"

"Sure. Last night, he came up behind me and started pawing all over me. I told him to get lost, and he said, 'Honey, don't you need this job? If you play ball with me, I'll play ball with you.'"

Sirexa is typing . . .

"Darn! I'm sorry. I don't understand."

"Last night, November 15, 2018, my supervisor came up behind me and put his hands on me. Do you get that?"

"Yes. Please tell me more."

"Then I told him to get lost."

"OK. Got it."

"Then he said to me, 'Honey, don't you need this job? If you play ball with me, I'll play ball with you.'"

Sirexa is typing . . .

"Um, I don't understand. Are you interested in joining the Company softball team?"

"No. I'm trying to make a harassment complaint."

"Oh, noes! Harassment violates Company policy. Please tell me what happened."

"I just did. My boss came up behind me last night, started pawing me, and I told him to get lost."

Sirexa is typing . . .

"What species of animal was involved?"

"There wasn't an animal!"

"Only service or comfort animals are allowed on Company premises."

"I'm not complaining about an animal!"

Sirexa is typing . . .

"Um, please tell me what happened."


"Oh, fiddlesticks! Your language violates the Company harassment policy. I will have to report this call to Human Resources."


You may recall that only about a month ago, it was reported that Amazon had to relegate its recruiting AI to routine tasks like de-duplication after finding out that the AI had a strong preference for male applicants.

I'm sure that harassment interviews conducted by AI will . . . create plenty of work for employment lawyers.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
Continue Reading



Back to Page