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What is the law on disparate impact discrimination?

In the workplace, all employees are protected from several types of discrimination, from discrimination based on their race or gender to discrimination based on their disability or religious views. While outright discrimination is fairly clearcut, there can also be situations in which a person is negatively affected by actions taken by an employer, even when the employer had no discriminatory intent.

When certain protected groups are negatively affected by the actions taken by an employer, the actions are considered to have had a disparate impact. If you believe that you may have been affected by disparate impact discrimination in your workplace, you should make sure that you have a full understanding of the law.

The law on disparate impact

An amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1991 states that an employer must justify the necessity of a practice when an employee establishes that the practice has had a disparate impact on their protected class. While disparate impact cases can be difficult to prove, a plaintiff can often be successful when they can show that the practice affected a large number of people in a systematic way.

An example of disparate impact

One well-known example of disparate impact is a case that was addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court. One company that was screening labor applicants put in place a high school diploma requirement. It was proven that this screening excluded a disproportionately higher number of African-American applicants, even though the employer had no discriminatory intent. As a result, the court ruled that this practice had a disparate impact.

If you believe that you may have been affected by disparate impact discrimination, you should not delay taking action to assert your rights and to protect your career.

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