Discrimination Lawsuit: Disparate Impact and Treatment
Unfortunately, discrimination can take place in the workplace affecting the employees. To try to prevent these occurrences, federal laws have been enacted that prohibit such behavior. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; it prohibits both in disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate impact refers to rules, policies, and practices by an employer that appear to be neutral on their face, but have a disproportionate impact on members of a protected class. Disparate treatment, on the other hand, is intentional discrimination (See EEO). If someone is the victim of either of these forms of discrimination, he or she can file a discrimination claim at the EEOC office closest to where he or she resides.
For a plaintiff to prevail on a disparate treatment claim where the employer did not admit discrimination, first the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case of discrimination. To establish a prima facie case of discrimination, the plaintiff must show that he or she is a member of a protected class, the plaintiff applied and was, in fact, qualified for the job, his or her application was rejected, and the position remained open after the rejection. After the plaintiff demonstrates a prima facie case, the employer must proffer a non-discriminatory reason for his or her actions. In order to win his or her case, the plaintiff must prove that the reason the employer gives is a pretext to cover up discrimination
An example of a scenario that results in an adverse impact on a protected class is the following: Super Styles Hair Salon, a large salon chain, has a requirement that all of it salon employees must have a fine texture of light colored hair. The owner feels that this is the look the salon should portray to draw in customers. Michelle, an African-American hairstylist who is very good at what she does, sues the salon for discrimination based on a disparate impact claim. Michelle claims that the policy that stylists must have fine textured, light colored hair has an adverse impact on African American stylists.
On the EEOC website, a press release appear on January 17, 2014 stating that NFI Railroad and NFI Industries was being sued by the EEOC for gender-based wage discrimination. In this case, the New Jersey based NFI, which provides logistics, transportation, and warehouse services for manufacturers and retailers, is accused of paying a female director less than two of her male counterparts for doing the same job. When the female director broached the subject of her male counterparts being paid more, she was told she should be thankful for what she got. Nothing was ever done by the company to remedy the disparity. In September of 2011, this female director was forced to quit her position. As NFI is in a male-oriented industry, this type of occurrence is not obscure; in fact, the EEOC feels that the case is a textbook case of women being paid less than men for doing the same job (See EEOC Sues NFI). Although this is not an obscure occurrence, it is a violation of Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on gender. The company is being sued for lost wages, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Furthermore, the EEOC is seeking to have the company institute policies that more fairly apply pay ranges.
Fortune 1000 Company
Walmart is a company that is clearly on the Fortune 1000 list, ranking number two on the Fortune 500 list in 2013. The CEO and President of Walmart Stores Inc. is a white male, Doug McMillon. The president and CEO of Walmart U.S. is also a white male, Bill Simon. The President and CEO of Walmart International is also a white male, David Cheesewright. Rosalind Brewer is the President and CEO of Sam’s Club, part of the Walmart company; although it is difficult to ascertain her ethnicity, she appears to be Hispanic. Michael bender, the president of Walmart West, Walmart U.S., is an African-American male. There are a number of females in executive positions and several African Americans. There are also several women and two African Americans on Walmart’s Board of Directors.
Walmart states on its website under employment opportunities, “we believe a diverse workforce – that embraces associates of all backgrounds, perspectives and ideas – is the strongest workforce. Women make up more than 57% of our U.S. workforce, 27% of our corporate officers, and comprise 20% of our Board of Directors – outperforming the U.S. retail industry and Fortune 500 average” (Walmart.com). Therefore, the diversity policy that Walmart has on its website focuses primarily on gender instead of race, ethnicity, or national origin.
“EEO: General: What are disparate impact and disparate treatment?”
Society for Human Resource Management. April 20, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.shrm.org/TemplatesTools/hrqa/Pages/disparateimpactdisparatetreatment.aspx
“EEOC Sues NFI Railroad and NFI Industries for Gender-Based Wage Discrimination.” January
17, 2014. Retrieved from: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-17-14.cfm