What Is Disparate Treatment Discrimination? | Mann & Elias
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What Is Disparate Treatment Discrimination?


Everyone deserves a fair chance at work, free from discriminatory treatment. While federal and state laws make it illegal for employers to treat workers based on their race, it is still a prevalent issue in the U.S. Last year alone, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 400,000 calls, nearly 40,000 emails, and more than 100,000 inquiries. More specifically, there were 22,064 chargers for race discrimination, and 37,632 charges for retaliation.

What does this mean? Racism and unfavorable behavior in the workplace is still a prevalent issue. It can also indicate that disparaging treatment is going unnoticed or subtle cases are getting dismissed. If you were treated unfairly, you should consider filing a racial discrimination case with an employment attorney in Los Angeles. In this article, we explain exactly what disparate treatment is and what you can do to sue for compensation.

The Meaning Behind Disparate Treatment

Disparate treatment is slightly different than direct racism. It is a form of treatment that pertains to one’s association with the U.S. labor laws. It refers to an employer’s unequal behavior toward an employee because of a protected characteristic under Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act. In the act, discrimination is prohibited against people because of race, religion, national origin, sex, and color. It is enforced alongside protective laws pertaining to age, sexual orientation, and disability. Each demographic that the law offers protection to is referred to as a “protected class.”

Disparate treatment is intentional. The offender will go out of his or her way to treat targeted victims in a protected class differently. This form of discrimination is common and different from disparate impact. Disparate impact is identified as discrimination that is deemed unintentional. For racial discrimination, disparate impact is a rare scenario, as the offender would treat everyone similarly. It is more common in reports against ageism.

Example of Racial Discrimination at Work

Whether an employer’s action was made because the employee is “protected”, does not excuse racist behavior. Read on for a brief example pertaining to disparate treatment:

Harvey, an employee at a call center was recently let go from his job. He claims it was because he is Hispanic. The employer refutes his statement by explaining he was fired because three customer complaints were reported against him. In this scenario, Harvey may have a strong case if he can prove that:

(1)  Other employees with three or more complaints last quarter are still employed.

(2)  The other employees are not Hispanic.

If the employer can prove the other employees were fired as well, there are no grounds for a racial discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles to take this case to court. Though, if Harvey also experienced direct treatment from the employer, like derogatory comments about Hispanic employees or Latin culture, he could proceed with the claim.

Proving A Disparate Treatment Claim

When it comes to subtle or apparent racist behavior, it can be challenging to prove without substantial evidence. In the example provided, if the employer had been able to provide additional support for his defense by claiming he hires and promotes Hispanic employees frequently, that does not mean he isn’t engaging in racial bias through his actions toward Harvey. Proving a disparate treatment claim can be difficult without legal advice and guidance from an attorney that is experienced in employment law.

For a successful claim, employees should have ample evidence to prove discrimination. The legal term is called “prima facie,” as it is solely interpreted based on how it initially appears. The support and weight of your case will be on the facts. The Supreme Court provided a criterion or test for employees to consider depending on their disparate treatment case. For example, if Harvey was also denied a beneficial opportunity because his employer said he would not promote Hispanic employees, answering these questions can help your case.

  • Are you a member of a protected class?
  • Were you qualified for a job benefit?
  • Did you apply and get denied?
  • After getting denied, was the opportunity still available?
  • Was the promotion given to another employee of a different race?

Proving Pretext Against Your Employer

Once the case is presented, the defendant has an opportunity to offer an explanation or reason. When the employer provides his or her statement, the plaintiff must prove that it is pretext for discrimination. This means an employee would present evidence to support the defendant’s reason, and help the jury visualize the defendant (employer) acted through racially motivated behavior. Here are two examples:

(1)  If the employer is providing different reasons throughout the trial, the plaintiff can easily prove he was racially discriminating.

(2)  If the employer is applying rules differently for each employee, the plaintiff would state a comparison in treatment for the same job opportunity, for example.

Instead of doing this on your own, it Is strongly encouraged to retain a lawyer for a better chance at maximum compensation.

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

 Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email info@mannelias.com.


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