When does disparate impact constitute discrimination?

On Behalf of | Aug 12, 2016 | Employment Discrimination |

Residents of Minnesota may be in a situation where they feel they have been discriminated against albeit not in an obvious way. After all, laws clearly prohibit workplace discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, sometimes a workplace practice may not be explicitly discriminatory but still has a disproportionally negative effect on many individuals in the workplace who fall under protected classes. This is called disparate impact, and it is against the law, although there are some exceptions.

Many lawsuits that utilize the theory of disparate impact stem from employees who have been fired, potential employees who had to take a skills test or other employment acts that affect a wide sample of workers. For example, the first disparate impact case to reach the United States Supreme Court was in regards to a situation in which an employer required a job applicant to have a high school diploma as a means of screening applicants for a position requiring manual labor. Although the employer did not mean to discriminate, this practice actually excluded a large number of African American job applicants when compared to applicants of other races.

However, it is difficult to prove disparate impact discrimination since a specific threshold for such discrimination does not yet exist. Moreover, when it comes to some forms of discrimination, such as age discrimination, the law allows employers more leniency than it might otherwise.

In the end, victims of disparate impact discrimination or other employment discrimination in the workplace should not lose hope. While it may seem intimidating, with the right legal help workers in such situations can determine whether they have a viable case to move forward on.

Source: FindLaw, “Disparate Impact Discrimination,” accessed Aug. 8, 2016