On May 14th we highlighted the concept of “disparate impact” discrimination through a recent case in which the EEOC sued the City of Jacksonville contending that it’s written examinations for the promotion of firefighters had a disproportionately adverse impact on black test takers.

Christina also wrote here on June 26th of a $736,000 settlement in Massachusetts in favor of 30 women who were denied jobs as state prison guards after failing the physical fitness examination. The federal government’s lawsuit challenged the test as having a disparate impact on women since 96% of men passed and the pass rate for women was between 55 and 84%.

Seems that the government is giving increasing attention to lawsuits involving systemic "disparate impact."   


It has now been reported that the Justice Department just filed a Title VII suit against the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, in which it contended that the city’s police department “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against women” by using a physical test between 2005 and 2011 which had the effect of excluding qualified women from consideration for hire as entry-level police officers and did not screen candidates for job-related skills.  


Haven’t yet seen the complaint but experience suggests that the physical test either was designed so that men would pass it in disproportionate numbers, or else that this was simply the unintended result.  Either way, this would be what "disparate impact" means on a practical level.