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Looking at the concept of disparate impact in workplace discrimination cases, P.3

We’ve been discussing the legal theory of disparate impact in workplace discrimination cases, and what must be proven in order to succeed or defeat a disparate impact claim. One of the points we made last time is that it isn’t always easy to put forth sufficient evidence to support a disparate impact claim.

The Equal Employment Opportunity, which is the agency charged with enforcing discrimination law, doesn’t always win disparate impact claims when it pursues them. The agency has been known to lose cases due to flawed statistical evidence. Because statistical evidence is typically necessary to demonstrate disparate impact, failing to provide reliable, relevant statistics evidence can sink a disparate impact claim. 

The case linked above dealt specifically with a requirement that applicants submit to a background check. While the agency had claimed that the test had a disparate impact on African-American candidates, the statistical evidence it provided to support the claim only reflected a subset of a subset of applicants, according to the court, and the analysis did not include the metrics a court would ordinarily expect to see before admitting such evidence at trial, or peer-reviewed results.

Discriminatory workplace policies can be difficult to expose, and successfully pursuing a case in court requires solid evidence to support a discrimination claim, particularly when the claim is for disparate impact. Those who feel they have been adversely affected by a discriminatory workplace policy should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to have their case evaluated and to determine the best way to assert their rights, whether at the state or federal level.   

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