Disparate Impact/Disparate Treatment Case Study


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1. Raytheon Company v. Hernandez, 540 U.S. 44; No. 02—749. Argued October 8, 2003–Decided December 2, 2003 on Disparate Treatment. We can define, Disparate Impact happens "when people are treated differently, with respect to the terms and conditions of employment because of their race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age or mental or physical disability."
Facts: In the above case, employee Joel Hernandez was tested positive for cocaine. With the fear of being dismissed from his job, he acknowledged that his behaviour violated petitioner Raytheon Company's workplace conduct rules, and obviously, was pressed to quit his job. Also, the reason for the employee resignation was also based on the notion that had he not resigned it would be petitioner who would eventually fired him from his work. After more than two years of rehabilitation, petitioner applied to be re-employed alleging on his application that the following had previously hired him. In his application, he also attached letters coming from, his pastor about his active church participation and from an Alcoholics Anonymous counsellor about his regular visit and attendance at meetings and his immediate recovery. When a HR employee of petitioner reviewed Hernandez application, she then rejected his application on the ground that petitioner has a policy against rehiring employees who are terminated for workplace wrongdoing. According to the HR employee, she did not know that that employee was a former drug addict when she rejected his application. As a result to this development, Hernandez instituted a suit and filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), averring that his rights has been violated in consonant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Therefore, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a consequence, gave a go signal to the respondent and issued a right-to-sue letter and the right to file an ADA action. Following this, respondent established an Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) action, alleging that petitioner did not act on his application for the reason that he has a record of drug addition and/or because he was known before as being a drug user. On the other hand, petitioner responded by filing a summary judgement motion. This resulted to respondent's argumentation in the alternative that in the case that petitioner sought for a neutral no-rehire policy in his case, it is still sufficient to a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) because of that policy's disparate impact.

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Despite respondent's allegation, the District Court handling the case granted petitioner's summary judgement motion on disparate-treatment claim and raised the issue that the disparate-impact claim made by the respondent was not timely pleaded or raised; thus raising the issue of jurisdiction. However, the Ninth Circuit accepted the disparate-impact claim. The Ninth Circuit also held that in terms of the disparate-treatment claim, it cited the McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 burden-shifting approach. According to the Court, respondent had offered a prima facie case of discrimination, wherein petitioner did not meet the burden of providing a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its employment violation since its no-hire policy, although non-discriminatory on its face, was found to be unlawful if used against employees who have lawfully forced to resign for illegal drug use but have since been restored to his healthy condition.
Issue: Whether or not the non-rehire of recovered addict violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Decision: The United States Supreme Court, on December 2, 2003, ruled 7-0 which says that a Tucson, Arizona missile plant may lawfully reject to rehire a former employee who have already overcome his drug addiction. However, the high court remanded the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to resolve the issue on discrimination that Joel Hernandez alleged against petitioner on the ground of his disability.
Apparently, the Ninth Circuit incorrectly used the disparate-impact analysis to respondent's disparate-treatment claim. According to the United States Supreme Court, it has time and again consistently discerned the difference between disparate-treatment and disparate-impact claims. Accordingly, disparate treatment arises when "an employer treats some people less favourably than others because of a protected characteristic." Resultantly, liability is dependent on whether the protected trait has really motivated the employer's conduct. The disparate-impact claims, on the other hand, involve on its face fair employment practices that fall more severely on one group than another and could not be accepted by business necessities. For this reason, these practices may be considered unlawfully discriminatory without the need for evidence of the employer's subjective discrimination. With this classification, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) recognize both claims. Unfortunately, courts when applying these theories must be very cautious in distinguishing the difference between these two theories.
Applying the above definitions in the case at bar, respondent was limited to the notion of the disparate-treatment theory that petitioner refused to rehire him on the ground that he was disabled and/or because of his record of disability. As such, petitioner's claim of its neutral no-rehire policy simply satisfied its obligation under McDonnell Douglas case to give a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for his determined refusal to rehire respondent. Therefore, having found the above findings, the only question that need to be resolved by the Ninth Circuit was whether there was enough evidence from which a jury could maintain that petitioner did make its employment decision on the ground of respondent's status as disabled despite its acceptable reasons. Rather, that court came to a judgement after discussion or consideration that, as a matter of law, the policy was not a permissible, non-discriminatory reason which is enough to defeat a prima facie case of discrimination. As a result, the Ninth Circuit did not properly focused on factors that give only to disparate-impact claims. And as a result, did not credit the idea that petitioner's no-hire policy could have been a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for disallowing to rehire an employee who was removed from his work for violating workplace conduct rules.

I. Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, No. 03-1160. Argued November 3, 2004- decided March 30, 2005 on Disparate Impact Claims on Age Discrimination. We can define that Disparate Impact is "an employment policy or practice, while neutral on its face, adversely impacts against a particular racial, ethnic or sex group. A neutral policy or practice may have an adverse effect on disabled individuals or religious groups."
Facts: This is a case on Disparate Impact Theory Application to Age Discrimination, where plaintiffs known as the City police officers and dispatchers and who were employees of the City of Jackson, Mississippi. The ages of the plaintiffs were claimed to be over 40 years.
In the said case, plaintiffs' claimed that the City's employees pay plan was an obvious violation of disparate impact theory when it granted enormous larger pay increases to employees with the age of less than 40. As a result, employees with five or fewer years of service have been receiving corresponding greater increases as compared to the plaintiffs' former pay with more than five years of term of office. To support plaintiffs' argument, they provided statistical evidence that the average pay of employees differed by age and older employees received less pay compared to the young ones. During the trial, the Court held that the Disparate Impact theory cannot be used in a case that arose from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), nevertheless the fact that the Court admitted plaintiffs averse and granted them relief under the Griggs vs. Duke Power Co. (401 U.S. 424). Likewise, the Court allowed the recovery of claims under the disparate impact theory for cases brought into court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When the case was elevated to the Court of Appeals, it likewise affirmed the trial court's decision on the above-mentioned ground. As a consequence, the plaintiffs resorted to the elevation of the case to the Supreme Court for review on certification. However, in order to facilitate the basis of the Supreme Court judgement, it permitted to hear oral arguments on November 3, 2004 among parties.
Issues: Whether or not the disparate impact theory of recovery which became the basis of Griggs vs. Duke Power Co. for cases that arose from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, can be applied to cases arising from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and whether or not the petitioners can seek relief from disparate impact theory of proof that can be applied to cases of age discrimination.
Decision: Resultantly, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the appellate court but disagreed with its findings that the disparate impact theory can never be applied under the Age Discriminatory in Employment Act (ADEA).
Petitioners affirmed that the salary increases they received in 1999 was a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act since such increases were more generous to employees who were less than 40 years old, thereby creating a prima facie case of discrimination. But, the City of Mississippi's intention for the pay plan was to attract qualified employees to continue working in the service by giving them performance bonuses and for them to maintain competitiveness among other agencies by providing just compensation regardless of sex, age, race and/or disability. In the case at hand, however, the petitioners argued their contentions in line with the Griggs vs. Duke Power Co. case. It was proven that when the employer required a high school diploma for entry to certain works, this additional requirement disqualified mostly blacks than whites. The Supreme Court announced that if disparate impact theory is upheld, the burden of proving the act or practice made by the employer was business necessity or job relatedness.
Also, the case of Grigg was a case based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 case while Smith case was under the Age Discriminatory in Employment. In the ADEA, however, it contained a clause which is similar to the Equal Pay Act (EPA) which provides that: "where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors under than age" and EPA which provides that "any factors other than sex". The Highest Court held that there could not be any disparate impact claims under the EPA because of the clause "any factors other than sex". Thus, same application can be made to the ADEA. In this case, the statutes gave protection to the employers against disparate impact cases.
Therefore, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the City of Mississippi. According to the former, the City's decision to give incentives to lower military group employees was aimed to raise salaries in line with the surrounding police forces. It is likewise a decision that was made by the City of Jackson, Mississippi based on a reasonable factor than age and based on the City's goal to retain and attract people in the police force.
References:
1. Raytheon Company v. Hernandez, 540 U.S. 44; No. 02—749. Argued October 8, 2003–Decided December 2, 2003.
2. Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, No. 03-1160. Argued November 3, 2004- Decided March 30, 2005.
3. Lindemann, Barbara and David Kadue. Age Discrimination in Employment Law. BNA Books, October 2003.


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