The influence of emerging technology on the United States workforce is accelerating as we enter the 2020s, particularly given the foundational shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Artificial intelligence, robotics, process automation and other technology advances, often referred to as cornerstones of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, are having a profound effect on a multitude of areas, including hiring and termination, compensation calculation, worker health and safety, performance management, and productivity monitoring. Employers must navigate these new waters while ensuring compliance with laws regarding discrimination, privacy, wage and hour protections, workplace safety and labor organizing rights.

Hunton’s Labor and Employment Emerging Technology practice brings together lawyers who are thought leaders in this area and are tested advisors and advocates for employers grappling with this panoply of new technology developments. The benefit of implementing and leveraging these new and emerging technologies to enhance workforce management are significant, but the related risks require a considered assessment throughout the implementation process. Our team brings an understanding of the full spectrum of emerging opportunities and risks for the in-house legal or HR team, and marries that with a practical approach to helping companies implement these technologies in a way that meets the company’s business goals.

Our Emerging Technology practice has guided some of the nation’s largest coast-to-coast employers, as well as small start-up enterprises, to identify new technology options, assess suitability for their operations and minimize the risks.

Our experience and resources allow us to offer the following services and support:

Artificial Intelligence in HR Support Tools 

  • Briefings on what our clients “need to know” about developments in technology and the law and the impact on the responsibilities facing corporate employment professionals.
  • Design consultation regarding the use of Recruitment Conversational AI (text and chat bots), AI hiring assessments, AI interview assessments, automated tools for establishing starting pay, pay increases, wage assessments, and other HR management tools, with a focus on avoiding potential claims of discrimination in algorithms, privacy violations, and other employment-related claims.
  • Immigration advice and representation of employers undertaking sponsorship of foreign workers on H-1B and other visas, for growing number of employees developing machine learning and other AI platforms.
  • Advice regarding AI-driven searches and collection of social media platform data for multiple employment purposes, including the hiring process, background checks, and client risks surrounding the use of information in the hiring.
  • Advice on selection of automated and AI HR support tools based on HR goals, organization size, validation issues and risks.
  • Representation in litigation challenging the use and implementation of artificial intelligence tools in the workplace.


  • Recommendations and maintenance planning to sanitize robots amid pandemic concerns, and to utilize workplace robots to monitor and enforce social distancing and safety protocols.
  • Avoidance advice and litigation representation regarding labor union, HR, grievance and collective bargaining issues flowing from the integration of robotics into supply chain and distribution centers, retail sales floors and other workplace applications.
  • Counseling and litigation on workplace safety and OSHA matters regarding robotics in the workplace, and safety risks posed to human employees, customers, vendors and members of the general public.
  • Counseling and defense of litigation involving safety risks of electric-powered equipment and vehicles while on the road, in showrooms, and multiple workplace environments.

Online Data Analytics

  • Advise data analytics companies regarding data gathered from online activity and purchases, use of data to enhance retail sales and other commerce activities, and consult on compliance and litigation considerations.
  • Consultation and litigation regarding calculation of commissions and awards from online sales and online transactions where the commissions are calculated by AI tools.

Workplace Connectivity Technology

  • Provide safety, legality and certification advice to global employers and AI product designers regarding:
  • Thermal cameras and “smart” thermometers to address infectious disease concerns in the workplace
  • Social distancing wristbands and phone applications for employee use
  • Wireless communication devices for use in high-hazard work environments 
  • Traffic apps for employees in geographically remote workplaces
  • Mobility software platform for urban and academic environments
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and practices, implementation of mobile HR apps, and the employment and labor risks they present