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Workplace discrimination and disparate impact

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2021 | Discrimination, Retaliation

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. A lot of people think that it most commonly involves blatant racism that manifests in derogatory comments and negative employment actions solely based on one’s status in a protected class. But workplace discrimination can be much subtler. In fact, in some instances this discrimination can be almost invisible without a close analysis of the situation at hand. This is the case when it comes to employment policies and practices that have a disparate impact.

Understanding how disparate impact works

In many work settings, standard policies and practices are implemented that apply evenly to everyone. So, on their face, these policies and practices seem neutral. However, in their application, these policies and practices sometimes disproportionately affect workers of a certain class, such as race, gender, age, or religion. If this disparate impact causes harm to a worker or a group of workers, then legal action may be justified. Succeeding on one of these claims often means being armed with statistics on the disproportionality of the policy’s implications and testimony from those who have been affected.

Defenses to disparate impact

An employer can take a few different strategies to try to defend against a claim of disparate impact. The most common defense is to argue that the policy is necessary for the business to operate and is related to the job in question. For example, although a policy requiring heavy lifting may prevent more women than men from being hired for a warehouse job, an employer can probably show that the job requires heavy lifting and that moving heavy objects is necessary in maintaining a warehouse business.

Get a thorough evaluation of your case

There can be a lot at stake in a workplace discrimination case. That’s why regardless of which side of the fight you’re on, you need to be equipped with evidence and legal arguments that support your position. If you’d like to get a realistic picture of your chances of success in your case and receive assistance in building your arguments, then you might want to discuss your situation with an attorney who is proven in this area of the law.