Previously, we began looking at the importance of working with an experienced attorney to build the strongest possible discrimination case. As we noted last time, one of the challenges many discrimination plaintiffs face is making a strong case for illegal discrimination. This is true both of cases involving discriminatory intent, as well as cases involving disparate impact.
Disparate impact refers to cases where a seemingly neutral employment policy or practice has an adverse effect on members of a protected class of workers. The challenges in these cases are different than those in discriminatory treatment cases, since the proof required to succeed in these cases is different.
One challenge in these cases is adequately proving that an employment policy or practice actually has a disparate impact on a protected class. This can be difficult unless the policy can be clearly tied to a protected class and the adverse effects on the class are unambiguous. In many cases, detailed statistical analysis—often of hiring and promotion outcomes—is necessary to build a strong case.
Another challenge for plaintiffs in disparate impact cases is overcoming employer arguments in defense of employment policies or practices that have an adverse effect on a protected class. Employers will usually try to argue that the policy or practice in question was adopted as a business necessity and that there is no other policy or practice that would have less of an impact on the protected class.
Building a strong case for employment discrimination is often not as easy as an individual initially assumes, but working with an experienced attorney can help identify whether a case has potential and can ensure everything is done to protect an individual’s legal rights. Whether one pursues a state or federal discrimination claim, a skilled attorney who understands both the law and the technical requirements for filing a successful discrimination lawsuit is a necessity for achieving a favorable outcome.