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Word of the day

Disparate Impact

A legal doctrine used in federal discrimination cases to show a violation even when the defendant’s actions have no apparent relationship to a protected class. In a disparate impact case, intent to discriminate is not necessary. The disparate impact doctrine prohibits a neutral restriction that has a statistically greater effect on a protected class than on other classes. Once a plaintiff shows that there is a substantial disparate impact on a protected class, the burden is shifted to the defendant to show that there is a valid nondiscriminatory reason for the statistical imbalance.

For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that aptitude tests that are a prerequisite to employment and that fail substantially more African Americans than whites constitute a disparate impact. A disparate impact analysis might be applied to a condominium association’s house rules and their impact in a familial status or handicap case.

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