Workplace discrimination is more common than many people realize. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 70,000 reports of workplace discrimination in 2020 alone. That’s significant, especially in light of the fact that a lot of workplace discrimination goes unreported.
The effects of workplace discrimination can be devastating, too. An individual may be passed over for promotion or given a worse job assignment, but in many instances individuals are passed over for work altogether or fired from their job due to discrimination. Far too often this leads to financial struggles for hardworking families who just want to get by.
That’s why it’s imperative that these families know the law and how to use it to their advantage. Only then can they take the steps needed to obtain accountability and recover the compensation that they’re owed.
Beware of disparate impact discrimination
One aspect of discrimination law that people often overlook is disparate impact discrimination. In a lot of discrimination cases, the egregious actions in questions are obvious. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes businesses implement policies and practices that, on their face, look perfectly fine. In practice, however, these policies and practices have a disproportionate impact on members of a protected class.
There are a number of examples of disparate impact discrimination. Heavy lifting as a job requirement, for example, may disproportionately affect women, and a policy against wearing headdresses may disproportionately affect women of Muslim faith. Any protected class can be subjected to one of these discriminatory policies.
Proving disparate impact discrimination
Disparate impact discrimination is sometimes referred to as hidden discrimination because it can be hard to spot at first glance. That’s why if you suspect that you’ve been subjected to disparate impact discrimination, you need to dig deeper. To start, talk to others in your workplace to see how the policy or practice in question has affected them. Then, you’ll probably need to work on gathering statistics to support your position. This might take some legal maneuvering, such as by obtaining employment records.
Defenses to disparate impact discrimination
If you’re going to pursue a legal claim based on disparate impact discrimination, then you need to be prepared to counter the defenses that are likely to be raised. To start, businesses oftentimes argue that the policy in question pertains to a business necessity. For example, in the heavy lifting example mentioned above, a business can probably escape a disparate impact claim if the job is one in a warehouse that requires frequent lifting of heavy objects. Here, see if there are less discriminatory or non-discriminatory alternatives that your employer missed.
Employers facing these claims also often argue that the negative employment action that was taken against an employee was justified and legal, rather than discriminatory. For example, an employer may claim that you were fired not because of your religious beliefs, but rather because of your poor work performance or tardiness. Be prepared to defend your employment record by using your work appraisals and having witness testimony lined up to support that record.
Have a strong legal ally on your side
Disparate impact discrimination cases can be challenging to prove. But that difficulty shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing the claim that you need to protect your interests. You can further those interests by working with an aggressive legal advocate who knows how to competently build these kinds of cases. So, if you’d like that kind of representation on your side, then now is the time to consider discussing your case with one of those legal professionals.