Disparate Impact vs. Disparate Treatment
What is the difference between Disparate Impact and Disparate Treatment? How do these two theories play out regarding employee discrimination cases? These are questions I hope to answer throughout this paper by using a couple of different court cases which explain or give detail as how employee discrimination is defined by our court system. Understanding how each theory works will provide employers and managers the opportunity to implement better workplace policies reducing the chances of employee discrimination.
Before we dive right into the actual court cases, let’s take a look at the definitions for both the Disparate Impact theory and the Disparate Treatment theory. According to the online Encarta dictionary, Disparate Impact is the indirect discrimination in employment or education against a class of people, e.g. by means of a psychological test (Dictionary, 2006). Ross Runkel explains disparate impact and disparate treatment as following:
Disparate impact" is a legal theory for proving unlawful employment discrimination. However, most actual cases use the "disparate treatment" theory. Disparate impact is the idea that some employer practices, as matter of statistics, have a greater impact on one group than on another. In a disparate treatment case, the employee is claiming that the employer treated her differently than other employees who were in a similar situation.
The year 1971 played a significant role in the shaping of American laws regarding employee discrimination in the form of disparate impact illustrated by the U.S. Supreme Court case Griggs vs. Duke Power Co (401 US 424). Up until the 1970’s, Duke Power Plant was paying their highest black employees less than the lowest paid white person in any other department. As well, right after Title VII became effective Duke Power Co. implemented certain requirements for employment along with possible department transfers for blacks only. The...
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