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What is disparate impact?

Residents and workers in California just like you have the right to live and work where you are comfortable, uninhibited by race, creed, religion, and other personal decisions or labels. However, you should also be aware of disparate impact and how it might affect you as an employee.

Defined by the Legal Dictionary as the use of a seemingly neutral practice to discriminate against employees, disparate impact can take many different forms. It can affect any protected class, and may be hard to identify at first specifically because the policy or policies that it takes place under are neutral on the surface. Oftentimes it is written off as being a practice that is “necessary for business” in some form, and usually the emphasis is not placed on the classes of people who are undermined by the practice, but rather on the gains made from it.

Disparate impact differs from disparate treatment in that it’s unintentional, meaning the creator(s) or enforcer(s) of the policy are unaware of the fact that people like you are suffering from inequality due to them. On the other hand, disparate treatment is an intentional decision that puts protected classes at a disadvantage and tries to excuse it as being necessary or benign. One could say that the latter is more malicious, due to the presence of intent.

Dealing with situations involving disparate impact can be difficult, especially when you’re part of the numbers negatively impacted by the policies. However, protecting your rights and safety as a worker will likely be worth bringing the situation to the attention of the proper authority.

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