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What is disparate impact?

Disparate impact in Florida occurs when the business practices at your place of employment, or a place where you would like to work, have a disproportionately negative effect on individuals of a protected class, even though there is no intent to discriminate behind the practice. According to FindLaw, it is difficult to prove a case of disparate impact in court. It often requires considerable statistical analysis to demonstrate that members of your protected class are experiencing a negative outcome more often and more consistently than members of other groups. For this reason, the court considers each claim on a case-by-case basis. 

The first Supreme Court case to address the issue of disparate impact involved an employer who screened applicants for a labor position on the basis of whether or not they had attained a high school diploma. The requirement excluded a disproportionate number of African American applicants despite the fact that that was not the intention of the employer. Examples of other practices that may have a disparate impact include pre-employment skills testing and layoffs.

Employment practices that have a disparate impact are generally illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, according to a subsequent law amending Title VII, an employer who can demonstrate that the practice is consistent with business necessity and is job-related for the position may be able to continue to practice it. In other words, an employer may be able to continue practices like screening applicants according to maximum education level attained if he or she could demonstrate that applicants who had not attained that level of education would not be able to perform the work duties required.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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