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Understanding disparate impact

California employees may benefit from learning more about what disparate impact means. Disparate impact prohibits employers from implementing practices that are discriminatory against a protected class identified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When an applicant or employee files a claim against an employer, they are tasked with the burden of proving that the employer has adopted a practice that has a disproportionate impact against a protected class.

Disparate impact is more about inherent discriminatory practices than explicit discrimination. In these cases, courts are more concerned with the employment action than the employer's motives or intent. An employer may contend that the practice or procedure is simply a necessity of business. To counter, the plaintiff would then be required to prove there were alternative measures available aside from the discriminatory practice. The law specifically prohibits employers from using institutional headwinds unrelated to measuring job capacity that have a disparate impact against a minority group.

The plaintiffs must prove to the court that the practice adversely impacts the protected class's opportunity for employment. Simply contending that the employer has an imbalanced workforce is not enough to prove the employer is guilty of disparate impact because there may be legitimate contributing factors, such as geography or cultural differences, that result in an uneven hiring practices. In contrast, proving that the employer hires a smaller proportion from a protected class in relation to the actual proportion of applicants from that respective class may help prove a case of disparate impact.

People who need more information about disparate impact may benefit from contacting a lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to assist applicants and employees who have been victimized by workplace discrimination. Lawyers may be able to investigate the incident and help determine which parties are culpable for the damages. Legal counsel may help spurned employees recover back pay, reinstatement or gain more amicable working conditions.

Source: The Free Dictionary, "Disparate Impact", November 10, 2014

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