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Discrimination

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Introduction

            Discrimination can be defined as the manner in which an individual is treated regarding him or her being of a particular group of people. The groups can be categorized on basis of age, sex or racism grounds. Federal equal employment opportunity law has only two fundamental ways of proving discrimination. The two requires evidence that the employer intended to discriminate against the plaintiff when it made the employment action. Disparate impact claims may be made without a show of discriminatory intent, mainly a troublesome task for discriminatory victims. The eventual burden is left to the employer to prove a business necessity in such claims. The issue of disparate impact was first mentioned in the judicial analysis of race discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under this Act, the two crucial methods that have emerged of proving unlawful discrimination in employment include disparate treatment and disparate impact.

Disparate impact and disparate treatment

            Disparate impact requires a proof that the employer had intentions of to discriminate against the plaintiff when it made the employment decision in question. Intent, the significant element of a disparate treatment claim may be proved directly for instance where discriminatory statements or behavior that is discriminatory toward a subordinate by a supervisor or where there is presence of circumstantial evidence. Disparate impact claims may be shown without proof of discriminatory intent, relieving the plaintiff of a frequent burdensome ordeal. Instead, disparate impact is obtained from the theory that employment decisions that look neutral on their face may in reality affect protected groups more fiercely than a vulnerable group. The eventual burden is left with the employer to prove necessity for any misunderstanding.

Wellness Foods & Apparel and Bella case

            Wellness Foods & Apparel can be protected from discrimination charges by showing or proofing the aspect of business necessity in the situation. This is because the pregnant woman would not sufficiently suit the job of advertising men’s soccer and wrestling clothing/gear. This is because the clothes are meant for men and it would be logical if they are advertised by men. The concept of disparate impact was first analyzed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Griggs v. Duke Power Co. In Griggs, black workers claimed that the employer’s use of high school diploma prerequisite and general intelligence tests to get laborer positions breached Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This is because these prerequisites had negative impact on blacks and were not relevant to the job performance in such a position. Underlying Griggs was the Court’s decision that criteria not related to job performance not be allowed to disregard the effects of previous discrimination or acts as leeway to employment progress by formerly isolated minority groups. In the case Dothard v. Rawlinson, the issue of sex discrimination was analyzed. Dothard challenged an Alabama policy stipulating a minimum height and weight for prison guards, because the policy had a disparate impact on female candidates and the authorities had not revealed a connection with job performance.  In 1991, Congress modified Title VII to take into consideration the employment practices with inconsistent effects on secluded classes which are unconnected to job performance or business necessity. Wellness Foods & Apparel would thus win the case if it proofed a business necessity for not giving the pregnant woman the advertisement job. Bella’s decision to give the opportunity to another person would be justified through this assertion and thus help Wellness Foods & Apparel win the case.

Stan case

            The age discrimination claim against Stan was not successful. This is because age discrimination does not require a show or proof of intent. This is in accordance to the ruling of the Smith v. City of Jackson. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in March 2005 named Smith v. City of Jackson outlining the legal standards that are required as a proof of age discrimination in employment dispute.  The case emerged as a result of the City of Jackson, Mississippi’s pay plan for law enforcers and other officials in which workers with less than five years’ service got relatively higher raises in order to take their wages closer to market rate. Due to the seniority constituent, the pay plan was considerably less generous to older workers because they normally had more than five years’ seniority. Thus, the workers claimed that the change in pay plan had a disparate impact on workers who were above 40 even if the pay plan did not deliberately discriminate on the grounds of the worker’s age. The lower court in the Smith case decided that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not include the disparate impact claims. The Supreme Court differed with the lower court and ruled that there are instances when a policy or process could amount to an age discrimination claim according to ADEA because of its disparate impact but that the City of Jackson’s law enforcers and officials had failed to show disparate under the issues raised in the case. Stan discrimination case was not successful because just like in the Smith’s case, the court had to focus on to major issues. The first issue was whether there was a specific test, requirement or stipulation that had a disparate effect on him as an older worker. The second issue is whether there were other factors other than age that determined the decision made. The test in Stan’ claim was the ability to treadmill or lift the big weights. This requirement depended on the individual’s ability and not age. Secondly, these factors were the only determinants of the decision made and not age. The main reason that the employer would give for not giving that employee the job would be that he will not be able to lift the weights and will not also treadmill which are crucial to job performance in the position.

Conclusion

            Disparate treatment or intent may be a challenge to proof in ADEA cases because of the ability to evade the issue of age. Employers would rarely directly announce to their workers that they are too old to work. Rather, the issue arises when the employer makes some decisions that affect elderly workers on age-related factors such as seniority, pensions or medical eligibility. Disparate impact analysis allows courts to assess the effect of policies and practices to establish whether they are illegally discriminatory. Employers can however win age discriminatory claims by proofing that the decisions that affect the elderly in their organizations were not based on age but on job performance. Like the case of Stan, he lost because the company only needed to proof that its decision was not based on age but on his inability to lift weights, that is job performance. The employers can also win sex discriminatory cases by proofing that their decisions are based on business necessity and not on the basis of sex . Wellness Foods & Apparel and Bella could easily proof that their decision of not giving the advertisement job to the woman was not influenced by the sex. The decision was influenced by business necessity because it is only logical that men’s clothes are advertised by men and at least not by a pregnant woman.

 

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