Disparate impact and disparate treatment refer to discriminatory employment practices. The distinction between these two types of discriminatory practices often focuses on the employer’s intent.
Disparate impact is often referred to as unintentional discrimination and disparate treatment is often referred to as intentional discrimination. The terms adverse impact and adverse treatment are sometimes used in place of disparate impact and disparate treatment.
Disparate impact occurs when policies, practices, rules, or other processes that appear to be neutral result in a disproportionate impact on a protected group of persons.
For example, testing all applicants and using results from that test that will unintentionally eliminate certain minority applicants disproportionately is disparate impact. And testing a particular skill of only certain minority applicants is disparate treatment.
Federal laws prohibit job discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, religion, age, military status, equal pay, pregnancy, disability, or genetic information and prohibit both disparate treatment and disparate impact discrimination.