As we discussed recently on the blog, workplace discrimination is still rampant across America’s places of employment. This discrimination can take many forms, effecting those of certain genders, races, and religions, just to name a few of the protected classes. Yet, most people in the workforce expect to be able to immediately identify workplace discrimination when it occurs. The unfortunate reality, though, is that discrimination oftentimes isn’t as blatant as you may think.
One way that discrimination can creep into the workplace without you really realizing it is through policies and practices that have a disparate impact. This means that the policy or practice seems neutral on its face, but when implemented it predominantly effects those of a protected class. To prove disparate impact, then, you may have to have statistics showing the wide disparity between how members of certain classes are treated under the policy or practice.
If you think that you’ve been affected by a policy with disparate impact, then you need to be aware of the defenses that you might come up against. The most commonly utilized defense in these kinds of cases is business necessity. Here, the employer argues that even thought the policy had a disparate impact, that policy served a legitimate business interest and was necessary for business operations. One way to get around this defense is to show that the employer still failed to consider and implement alternative policies and practices that would have avoided such a disparate impact on the protected class in question.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. Sadly, this means that employers sometimes get away with discriminatory practices simply because their employees don’t know that they are being discriminated against. Don’t let that happen to you. If you suspect that you’ve been unfairly treated because of your status in a particular class, then you might want to consider reaching out to a legal professional who can help analyze your case and advocate on your behalf should you choose to take formal legal action.