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Examples of Disparate Impact Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination comes in many forms. However, it may often be broken down into two basic categories: disparate treatment discrimination and disparate impact discrimination.

Disparate treatment discrimination involves members of a protected group being clearly treated differently from other employees. Disparate impact discrimination occurs when a seemingly neutral employment practice has a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected group. Unlike disparate treatment discrimination, which involves intentional discrimination, disparate impact discrimination can occur even if the employer did not intend to discriminate. In this blog post, we will explore potential examples of disparate impact discrimination in the workplace.

  • Pre-Employment Tests: Pre-employment tests can be a source of disparate impact discrimination if they adversely impact members of a protected group. For example, if a physical fitness test disproportionately excludes women or older workers, it may be considered disparate impact discrimination. This might be the case if the pre-employment test doesn’t serve any genuine business purpose because employees would be able to perform their duties even if they didn’t meet certain physical fitness standards.
  • Credit Checks: Employers who use credit checks as part of the hiring process may be engaging in disparate impact discrimination. Due to various factors, members of certain protected groups might have worse credit than other employees.
  • Height and Weight Requirements: Height and weight requirements can be a source of disparate impact discrimination simply because average height and weight can vary based on such factors as gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Again, if height and weight requirements serve a legitimate business purpose, they may be acceptable, but often, such requirements merely serve to limit the employment opportunities of members of certain groups.
  • English-Only Policies: An English-only policy may disproportionately affect Hispanic or Asian employees. Although there may be instances in which a workplace legitimately benefits from ensuring all employees speak a common language to facilitate communication among workers, there may also be cases in which requiring workers to only speak English could represent a form of workplace discrimination.
  • Educational Requirements: Access to higher education can vary from one demographic group to another. Thus, if a company enforces certain educational requirements for employees, despite the fact that employees don’t necessarily need to have achieved a certain level of education to perform their duties, the company could be engaging in disparate impact discrimination.
  • Seniority Systems: Seniority systems can be a source of disparate impact discrimination if they have a disproportionate impact on members of a protected group. For example, if a seniority system results in the exclusion of women or minorities from higher-paying positions, it may be considered disparate impact discrimination.

Contact a Los Angeles Workplace Discrimination Attorney

If an employer is accused of disparate impact discrimination, they may defend themselves by claiming that they’ve established certain requirements or standards for employees because said requirements serve legitimate business purposes. Thus, if you believe you’ve been a victim of disparate impact discrimination, it’s important to have proper assistance from an expert when taking legal action against an employer.

Review your case with a Los Angeles workplace discrimination attorney at Rager & Yoon — Employment Lawyers for more information. We’ll help you better understand your options when an employment policy has unfairly affected you. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at 310-527-6994.


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