Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Title VII’s Disparate Impact Doctrine: The Difference It’s Made for Women

This post was cross-posted from ACSBlog.

This week the Senate HELP Committee will vote on the nomination of Thomas Perez to be the next Secretary of Labor. In the midst of the many unfair and unfounded attacks lobbed against Mr. Perez in recent weeks, an important legal doctrine for combating sex discrimination has also come under attack: disparate impact. Under Mr. Perez’s leadership as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice, the Department has employed the longstanding disparate impact analysis to combat employment discrimination. Its application is not only legally sound, but exceptionally important to eliminate discrimination and further justice.

The Supreme Court and Congress have long made clear that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act “prohibits employers from using employment practices that cause a disparate impact” based on sex and other protected classes. The doctrine of disparate impact allows for a remedy when an employment practice that may be neutral on its face has an unjustified adverse effect on members of a protected class.

Disparate impact has been crucial to addressing entrenched discriminatory employment practices. Indeed, women’s entry into high-wage, nontraditional occupations has been made possible in large part by challenges to unfortunate employment practices that disproportionately disadvantage women, which would have otherwise remained unchanged but for the Title VII’s disparate impact doctrine. Courts, for example, have struck down height, weight or strength requirements implemented by employers in police departments, fire departments, in construction and in correctional facilities because the requirements were not related to job performance, but instead reflected stereotypes about the skills required for a position. Moreover, there are often alternative practices that may both satisfy job performance demands and allow for a diverse workforce.

A few cases illustrate the importance of courts applying the disparate impact standard to strike seemingly neutral employment practices that over time have limited women’s access to jobs in higher paying fields like police work, firefighting, or construction.

  • The Ninth Circuit struck down the height requirements utilized by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) because they were not job related and had a disparate impact on women, who tend to be shorter than men. (Blake v. City of Los Angeles, 595 F.2d 1367 (9th Cir. 1979)).
  • The Eighth Circuit struck down a newly implemented strength test used for workers in a sausage factory, finding that the test was more physically demanding than the actual job and had a gross disparate impact on women. (Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Dial Corp., 469 F.3d 735 (8th Cir. 2006)).
  • A court struck down a construction site policy prohibiting bathroom breaks for crane operators. The employer told its female crane operators to follow the example of their male colleagues and urinate off the back of the crane while working. This policy was not job-related and had a disparate impact on women. (Johnson v. AK Steel Corp, 2008 WL 2184230 (S.D. Ohio May 23, 2008)).

Although we’ve highlighted only a few here, in numerous cases courts have appropriately applied the disparate impact doctrine to strike employment practices that limit women’s access to jobs in higher paying, traditionally male fields. But the doctrine alone is not enough – both a robust legal standard, and vigorous enforcement of that standard, are necessary to ensure that Title VII remains an effective tool for opening doors previously closed to women and people of color. And under Mr. Perez’s leadership, for example, the Civil Rights Division has brought a number of cases challenging discriminatory physical tests for police officers and corrections officers that disproportionately excluded women, which resulted in back pay and hires with retroactive seniority to female job applicants who were harmed by those tests. We commend Mr. Perez’s enforcement of the disparate impact standard; it provides grounds to support, not undermine, both his nomination and the standard itself.


launch x431 gds

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this launch x431 gds

Thanks for a very interesting

Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.

I have recently started a

I have recently started a blog, the info you provide on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks  for all of your time & work.   sa 8000 orvieto

You have done a great job. I

You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site. sistemi di gestione grosseto

I am always searching online

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!
Canada Goose Jakker Butikk

I was very pleased to find

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
Belstaff Jackets

westwood new ec

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.westwood new ec

Thank you for this amazing

Thank you for this amazing and excellent article. I'll share this with others also. Thank you.

I concur with you. This post

I concur with you. This post is positively rousing. I like your post and all that you impart to us is present and exceptionally useful, I need to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have made an awesome showing .. - See more at:
live animal trapping los angeles

I'm excited to uncover this

I'm excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!!

I am very impressed. I do

I am very impressed. I do have a couple questions for you personally however.

Took personal time to peruse

Took personal time to peruse all the remarks, yet I truly reveled in the article. It ended up being Very useful to me and I am certain to all the commentators here! It's generally pleasant when you can be educated, as well as entertained!
michael fiore text your ex back review

I might want to thank you for

I might want to thank you for the exertions you have made in composing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on also.
scissor doors

This is truly a great read

lunatik discount code

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here.lunatik discount code

unlock her legs review

This course came from the fact that Bobby and Rob continually got questions from guys that started with “So, there is this girl…” Most guys completely blow it with the girls they really like.unlock her legs review

had a disparate impact on

had a disparate impact on women. (Johnson v. AK Steel Corp, 2008 WL 2184230 (S.D. Ohio May 23, 2008)).



I absolutely enjoyed every

I absolutely enjoyed every single small little bit of it. I’ve you bookmarked your internet site to look at out the new stuff you post Advice by Commodity Warrants

Post new comment