Disparate Impact Case Study

Essay by hpattenCollege, Undergraduate October 2007

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Disparate Impact Case Study � PAGE �1�

Disparate Impact Case Study

Heather Patten

University of Phoenix

Employment Law


Erick Bohlman

September 18, 2006



Disparate impact is "an unnecessary discriminatory effect on a protected class caused by an employment practice or policy that appears to be nondiscriminatory" (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, 1996). This case study will evaluate a disparate impact case. The case to be evaluated is Griggs v. Duke Power Company. The case study will provide a brief description of the facts, ruling and reasoning of the court, specific implications of the ruling, and an appropriate case citation.

Description of Facts

This case was argued on December 14, 1970 and decided on March 8, 1971 in the United States Supreme Court. Willie Griggs, an African American, filed a class action against his employer Duke Power Company. Mr. Griggs thought that the company's requirement of a high school diploma and passing of intelligence tests as a condition of employment in or transfer to jobs at the plant was discriminatory against the African American employees.

This case was dismissed by the district court and the Court of Appeals did not find that the company was acting discriminatory. The Supreme Court issued certiorari, which allows records of a particular case from an inferior judicial body, for example, the Court of Appeals. The OYEZ website (1971) states,

After noting that Title VII of the Act intended to achieve equality of employment opportunities, the Court held that Duke's standardized testing requirement prevented a disproportionate number of African-American employees from being hired by, and advancing to higher-paying departments within, the company. Neither the high school graduation requirement nor the two aptitude tests was directed or intended to measure an employees' ability to learn or perform a particular job or category of jobs...