What is Disparate Impact?

In simple terms, disparate impact occurs when a practice or hiring standard that is neutral and non-discriminatory in its intent has a disproportionately negative impact on individuals within certain subgroups protected by civil rights laws (e.g., race, gender, age).

Many hiring practices exhibit disparate impact, including:

  • Education Requirements
  • Criminal Background Checks
  • Physical Requirements
  • Certification/Licensure Requirements
  • Credit Checks
  • Work Experience
  • Cognitive Abilities Tests
  • Drug Tests

Intent to discriminate is not a factor with respect to disparate impact. Rather, only the consequences of the process are considered. However, an employer can justify the use of these tools as long as they are job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.

For more information on disparate impact, please download our white paper.


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