Disparate Impact/Disparate Treatment Case Study

Essay by julz4464University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2007

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An employment discrimination case can be classified as either a disparate impact of disparate treatment case, depending on the situation and details of the case. This classification is also dependent on the employer’s motive to committing the alleged discrimination. Classifying a case as “disparate impact” or “disparate treatment” allows lawyers alternative methods to prove that employers had a legal reason behind the action and employees can show that the employer had the wrong motive. Disparate treatment occurs when an employee claims that the employer treated him/her differently than other employees were treated who were in the same situation while disparate impact claims focus on whether the employer has a policy or procedure that affects one group more than it does another (Runkel, 2005).

One such case that exemplifies disparate impact is that of Alexander v. Sandoval. At this point, disparate impact cases did not require a showing of discriminatory intent and allowed any qualification test to be opened for scrutiny.

When Martha Sandoval came from Mexico to work in the U.S., she was not prepared to take the Alabama state driver’s license test in English, so she failed. Alabama had passed an English-Only law so the state interpreted that to mean the drivers’ license exam would only be offered in English. She was able to read road signs but could not read enough English to pass the exam. The Supreme Court ruled against Sandavol even though she was able to show the discriminatory effect of the law towards a group of people to the lower courts (Welner, 2001). The Court’s position differed from that of the lower courts when the state’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to find if Congress ever intended for individuals to be able to bring lawsuits directly under the authority of the Title VI implementing...