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Allegations of Unnotified AI-Powered ‘Lie Detector Screening’ Emerge Against CVS Health in Job Interview Process

A candidate who recently interviewed for a position with CVS Health has come forward, accusing the company of subjecting him and other applicants to an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered lie detector test without proper notice. The class action complaint was recently transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, bringing the issue to the forefront.

The lawsuit, filed by David S. Godkin and James E. Kruzer of Birnbaum & Godkin in Boston, represents Brendan Baker, who participated in an interview using CVS’s automated interview and application software. CVS had contracted with HireVue, a company that employs an AI tool for job candidate screening, as stated in the complaint.

While the exact number of impacted job seekers remains unknown, Baker is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent CVS from illegally utilizing such applications in the future. The complaint also alleges violations of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 149, Section 19B(2)(b), which prohibits the requirement or administration of a lie detector test as a condition of employment or continued employment. The violation of this law can result in criminal penalties and civil liabilities for the employer.

Baker argues that HireVue interviews fall under Massachusetts’ definition of a “lie detector test.” The complaint highlights that HireVue acknowledges the potential of its interviewing process to “scale lie detection, screen out embellishers, and identify candidates who are truly fit for the role” by assessing integrity, work ethic, and cheating through a set of questions. According to the complaint, HireVue then uploads candidates’ interview videos to Affectiva’s application programming interface (API), an AI company that analyzes facial and vocal expressions to understand human emotions and cognitive states.

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The complaint states that HireVue utilizes various inputs, such as candidates’ voice intonation, speech inflection, eye contact, enthusiasm for the role, and, until recently, facial expressions. It builds a comprehensive database of psychographic information on millions of individuals, evaluates hundreds of personality traits, and provides employers with a numerical “employability” score or competency-level scoring report tailored to their needs.

Baker, who was not hired by CVS, initially filed the lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court in April, but it was subsequently moved to the district court. Judge Patti B. Saris has been assigned to the case.

In response to the allegations, the plaintiff and class members are seeking no less than $500 per violation, along with attorney fees and costs. Anthony S. Califano from Seyfarth Shaw’s Boston office is representing CVS in the case, although no immediate comments were provided by the plaintiff’s attorneys or Califano himself.

As the legal proceedings unfold, it remains to be seen how this case will shape the discourse surrounding the use of AI-powered tools in job interviews and the extent to which candidates should be informed and consent to such screening methods.

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