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Secret formula for firing can be challenged in court

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in Firing,HR Management,Human Resources

Public employees may have constitutionally protected property interests in their jobs and the right to due process before losing their jobs. A federal court has now ruled that using a secret algorithm to determine whether a public employee will lose her job may violate that right to due process.

Recent case: The Houston Indepen­­­­dent School District began using a private company’s algorithm-driven evaluation and scoring system to iden­­­­tify ineffective teachers based on student scores and improvement over time. Teachers judged ineffective by the system were terminated.

They sued, alleging that because they did not know how the algorithm worked, they were unable to challenge its accuracy when contesting their firings. The court agreed that the secret evaluation method might interfere with the teachers’ due process rights. Their claim can proceed. (Houston Federation of Teachers v. Houston Independent School District, SD TX, 2017)

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