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What is considered to be disparate impact or treatment?

Most workplace discrimination lawsuits that were filed around the time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law had to do with racial discrimination. While race continues to be a leading reason that employees or prospective employees file workplace discrimination lawsuits, it's not the only reason. Many individuals have been motivated to sue because they belong to other protected classes in recent years.

Disparate impact refers to a situation in which workers belonging to protected classes such as a religion, age bracket, race or disability status are treated more unfavorably by employers than those individuals who belong to a nonminority group.

Individuals that belong to protected groups or classes here in California and elsewhere in the United States include those individuals who are pregnant, of certain national origins and religions or veterans as well as those with disabilities or genetic disorders. Gender-based discrimination is outlawed here in San Francisco and the rest of the country as well.

Those people who form part of these protected classes may have difficulty landing a job with a particular employer that nonminority workers qualify for. If this happens, then this may be considered as a disparate impact.

Human resources officers are prohibited from allowing an individual's belonging to a protected class to affect the hiring decisions that they make. This is outlawed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Many selection criteria that employers use include requiring workers to meet certain minimum educational requirements, passing pre-employment testing and passing credit and background checks are lawful. This screening often leads to the exclusion of certain individuals from the running for a job though. Even still, it's legal for employers to require any prospective employees to submit to these as long as it's necessary to determine if they'd be appropriate for the available role.

If you are concerned that the qualifications that you were required to meet when applying for a job were unnecessarily complex or that they were put in place to weed out certain individuals for the position, then you may have a valid disparate impact case. An attorney can review any evidence of impropriety that you have compiled and let you know whether it warrants filing a lawsuit against your prospective San Francisco employer.

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