Bloomberg Law
Feb. 22, 2023, 4:38 PMUpdated: Feb. 22, 2023, 7:41 PM

Workday AI Biased Against Black, Older Applicants, Suit Says (1)

Annelise Gilbert
Annelise Gilbert

Workday Inc.'s artificial intelligence systems and screening tools allegedly disqualify applicants who are Black, disabled, or over the age of 40 at a disproportionate rate, according to a lawsuit.

Derek Mobley seeks to represent all applicants in those protected classes who haven’t been referred or hired for employment as a result of the discriminatory screening process, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit comes at time when federal agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are pushing for enforcement on AI bias.

Mobley, a Black man older than 40 who suffers from anxiety and depression, allegedly applied to 80-100 positions since 2018 that use Workday as a screening tool. He has been denied employment every time, despite him holding a bachelor’s degree in finance from Morehouse College and an associate’s degree in network systems administration from ITT Technical Institute.

Workday provides its screening tools to hundreds if not thousands of companies, the complaint said. The company allegedly allows the preselection of applicants outside of protected categories, and the tools allegedly rely on algorithms and inputs created by humans who often have conscious and unconscious motivations to discriminate.

Its administration and dissemination of the screening products “constitute a pattern and practice of discrimination,” the complaint said. Mobley further alleged that Workday marketed tools it knew intentionally discriminated against him and class members in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Mobley seeks injunctive relief that would reform “Workday’s screening products, policies, practices and procedures so that the Representative Plaintiff and the class members will be able to compete fairly in the future for jobs and enjoy terms and conditions of employment traditionally afforded similarly situated employees outside of the protected categories.”

Workday believes the lawsuit is without merit, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company said through a spokesperson. It is “committed to trustworthy AI” and acts “responsibly and transparently in the design and delivery” of its AI solutions, it added. “We engage in a risk-based review process throughout our product lifecycle to help mitigate any unintended consequences, as well as extensive legal reviews to help ensure compliance with regulations.”

Causes of Action: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and 29 U.S.C. §§ 623(a)(2).

Relief: Class certification; declaratory judgment; preliminary and permanent injunction; back and front pay; interest; benefits; compensatory, nominal, liquidated, punitive, and exemplary damages; and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Potential Class Size: “The number of Class members is currently indeterminate, but is certainly numerous,” according to the complaint. Mobley is seeking to represent those who applied since June 3, 2019.

Attorneys: Winston Cooks LLC represents Mobley.

The case is Mobley v. Workday, Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 23-cv-00770, complaint filed 2/21/23.

(Updates story with comment from Workday in the seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Annelise Gilbert at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at