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Using Disparate Impact Theory when Suing for Non-Intentional Discrimination

By Edited Oct 5, 2016 0 0

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of race, sex, disability, national origin, age, and religion. In some instances, employers can still be sued even if they have not performed any employment practices that are discriminatory in nature.

Courts have allowed employees to take the legal action in order to prove that they were treated unfairly by their employer even though there are neutral or unbiased employment policies are being enforced in the company.

Non-Intentional Discrimination and Disparate Impact

Neutral policies can cause non-intentional discrimination if it violates the rights of people who are included in a protected class. An employer will be liable in it even if there was no motive, provided that the plaintiff was able to prove that the employment practice has a negative effect on him.

The disparate impact theory is often used as a basis when suing for non-intentional discrimination. Under it, an employee will have to show that a practice or policy excluded certain individuals.

The Congress is more concerned with the severe effects of employment practices and policies, rather than the reason why they are being implemented. If the defendant was able to show that the policy in question is needed, the plaintiff will then be required to prove that other steps can be done in order to achieve a productive or efficient workmanship.

An employer who does not make employment decisions based on an individual's certain characteristics may still be guilty of non-intentional discrimination. Remember that an imbalance may be caused by different legitimate factors like cultural differences, lack of job qualifications, or geography.

The most important factor that the employee has to prove is that the practice or policy caused a disproportionate impact on certain individuals. If he was able to prove it, the employer will be then required to justify or enumerate his reasons for enforcing it.


"Business necessity" is considered as the only defense when facing a non-intentional discrimination suit. Before an employer can use it as his defense, the following factors must be first present:

  • The policy is apparently unbiased
  • The policy has a disparate impact
  • The policy is applied to everyone, not on selected individuals

Filing a Case with Employment Attorney's Help

Proving that non-intentional discrimination occurred in the workplace may require the expertise of an employment law attorney. Because of the different issues that are involved in the case, it is better if a legal expert is there to prove your allegations.



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