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Disparate Impact Discrimination

Laws at the federal and state levels prohibit intentional discrimination based on race or gender. Even if an employer didn't intend to discriminate, their practices or policies can still unfairly affect protected groups. This is known as disparate impact and it is against the law, although there are some exceptions. Proving this type of discrimination can be difficult. Continue reading to learn more about workplace discrimination like this.

History of Disparate Impact Discrimination

Disparate impact discrimination is a legal theory recognized by the courts. The Supreme Court said that the burden of proof shifted to the employer once the employee was able to prove that a particular employment practice caused disparate treatment of their protected class.

In 1991, the Civil Rights Act changed Title VII. It made it clear that if an employee shows that a certain employment practice has a negative effect, the employer has to prove that the practice is necessary for the job and the business. Lawsuits based on the idea of disparate impact often come from job cuts, tests before hiring, or other employment actions that affect a large group of people in similar situations.

The first U.S. Supreme Court case about this issue looked at a company's rule that job applicants needed a high school diploma. Even though the employer didn't mean to, this rule kept out many more African-American applicants than white applicants.

Proving Disparate Impact

It can be hard to prove this type of discrimination. There is no one test or threshold to prove it. Each claim is decided on a case-by-case basis. It may need statistical analysis and comparisons. If you need help, you can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Age-related discrimination cases are difficult because different laws protect individuals from discrimination based on age. Employees can still establish age discrimination based on a disparate impact under these laws, but employers have more leniency in defending their practices.

Notable Cases and Legal Precedents in Disparate Impact Discrimination

Many legal cases have contributed to the evolution of disparate impact discrimination. These cases have highlighted the existence of discriminatory practices. They have also set precedents for future litigations.

One pivotal case was Griggs v. Duke Power Co., brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971. It challenged the power company's requirement for a high school diploma and intelligence tests for job promotions. The court ruled that such practices, which claimed to be neutral, disadvantaged African-American employees. 

As a result, the burden of proof was shifted to the employer. The employer had to demonstrate that these requirements were genuinely job-related and necessary. This established a significant precedent in disparate impact cases.

Another notable case is Smith v. City of Jackson (2005). Here, the Supreme Court clarified that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applied to disparate impact claims. This case broadened the scope of protections against age-based discrimination. It also showed the importance of ensuring fairness in employment practices that might disproportionately affect older workers.

Additionally, the case of Ricci v. DeStefano (2009) examined the practice of discarding the results of promotional exams. This was due to concerns over the disparate impact on minority candidates. This case emphasized the complex balance between anti-discrimination laws and legitimate business necessity. It also highlighted the challenges in disparate impact issues.

These landmark cases influence how courts analyze, interpret, and rule on disparate impact claims. Understanding these cases is crucial for both employees and employers.

Want To Learn More About Disparate Impact Cases? Talk to an Employment Discrimination Lawyer

The discriminatory effect you suffer at work can have an adverse impact on your overall job performance. To prove that your employer's decisions have a negative impact on a specific group, you need to understand the law and present all the facts. Talk to a local employment law lawyer who knows about the harm caused by these unfair practices.

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