Disparate Impact Lawyers

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What is "Disparate Impact"?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits any organization from discriminating against individuals because of personal, or immutable, characteristics. Every citizen is seen as an equal in the United States, so all people, regardless of personal characteristics, must be given the equal opportunity for advancement, promotion, salary, and hiring. There are different kinds of discrimination and “shades” of discriminatory practices that courts identify and distinguish. Two of these are known as “disparate impact” and “disparate treatment.”

Disparate impact is a term that is commonly used in employment discrimination cases. If an organization has any rules or policies in place that seem to be neutral, but result in systemic repression or discrimination of any group based on a protected quality, then that policy is illegal due to disparate impact.

Is Disparate Impact Different from Disparate Treatment?

Disparate treatment is different from disparate impact. Disparate treatment refers to practices where a particular group is targeted and discriminated against. Like a company making a rule that results in women unable to be hired for a particular position. It can be a rule that prohibits employees in the position from breast-feeding or taking medical leave.

Disparate impact can be unintentional, but if an unintentionally discriminating policy violates the law, then the company is still be liable for the resulting discrimination. Sexual harassment cases can be disparate impact cases. Disparate impact can also be the result of performance evaluation discriminations, as supervisors can unintentionally hold certain groups of people to a higher standard than other groups.

How is Disparate Impact Used in Court?

Intent must be shown for cases of disparate treatment. So the plaintiff must establish that the employer specifically intended to hurt or discriminate against them.

Whereas disparate impact cases do not need to prove intent, instead they need to prove that the harm was a result of a company policy. For example, if a person was blocked from getting a raise or a promotion and it was due to a discriminatory practice or rule, then disparate impact is present.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes. It is very important to have an employment lawyer involved in all aspects of a discriminatory case. The stakes are high as are the potential remedies, and they can help you make the best possible case and represent you during every step of the case.

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Last Modified: 09-19-2016 11:08 AM PDT

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