Disparate Impact

What is “Disparate Impact”?

Laws against discrimination not only covers intentional acts by a particular party but also actions that are not premediated to discriminate but have the effect of doing so.When an employer’s action results in a discriminatory effect, this is referred to as a disparate impact. It can also be described as the rejection of a higher percentage of a protected class of placement, employment, and promotion. Disparate impact is characterized by practices that adversely affect a select group within the population. In order to prove that an adverse effect exists, individuals are required to establish certainly that specific selection procedures have resulted in an adverse or disparate impact on a particular protected class.


Company Y hires employees to collect tickets at sporting events. Company Y’s offer of employment is contingent on a successful background check. An employee with a prior criminal conviction is not allowed to begin employment. Discuss the potential disparate impact this could have on employees, and provide recommendations on what, if anything, the employer should do differently.

In the case of company Y, the refusal to hire or recruit potential employees who have had a prior criminal conviction could result in a discriminatory effect in that, members of certain groups that exhibit higher percentages of convictions might be unintentionally disallowed. According to (BUCKLEY, 2016, 3-24), past courts have found that broad recruitment exclusions based on conviction or arrest records often results tounlawful disparate impact to minority groups, particularly Hispanic and African American applicants. Therefore, company Y should reduce its broad criteria of selection to include narrow preferences. Alternatively, the company’s managerial team should prove without reasonable doubt that the applicant’s criminal history is defensible by the business’ necessity. BUCKLEY (2016) notes that past court rulings have upheld the use of conviction records where they were proven to be job related, especially in cases of safety-related positions. Since company Y’s business is safety-sensitive, it is recommended for the managementto establish a justification for its use of successful background checks.

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