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Get help proving disparate treatment and impact

What exactly does it mean to be the victim of disparate treatment or to suffer disparate impact in the workplace?The short answer may be that one is clearly intentional while the other is not.

Disparate treatment means that employees are singled out for different treatment based on specific criteria related to their race, religion, ethnic origin or other characteristic.

For example, imagine that you were "downsized" out of your job and told that a company restructuring made your position obsolete. You are in your early 50s, so finding a job is difficult. You also find out that a younger person was hired under a different job title to do the same job you used to do -- just at a lower salary -- you could build a case for disparate treatment based on age.

The real issue is that your job wasn't absorbed into a larger job or divided up among several people. Its name was simply changed, and it was given to a younger employee. That's purposeful discrimination.

Disparate impact occurs when a policy or procedure has the net effect of discriminating against a protected class of employees even though it wasn't intended to do so -- or, at least, wasn't obviously intended to do so.

For example, if your employer only advertises job postings on Twitter and it can be shown that the policy has the net effect of only attracting younger (and more technologically-adroit) users, you could make a case that there's a disparate impact being created among applicants.

Knowing that you're the victim of disparate treatment or impact and proving it are two vastly different things. Proving disparate treatment or disparate impact can often be extraordinarily difficult without access to the sort of information that attorneys can get through the use of legal tools like subpoenas and depositions -- which have a way of uncovering a lot of issues employers know about but would prefer to hide.

If you have a legal issue involving disparate treatment or disparate impact at work, don't try to handle this workplace discrimination issue on your own. Get an attorney's assistance.

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