La Shawn Barber

The disparate impact theory of liability was articulated in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971). The Supreme Court held that for purposes of hiring, an employer's use of a high school diploma requirement and aptitude tests violated the Civil Rights Act. Black applicants disproportionately lacked diplomas and/or scored low on the tests. Under the disparate impact analysis, discrimination need not be intentional. Even if an employment practice is "facially neutral," it's suspect if it has an adverse impact on members of a protected class. To avoid liability, businesses would have to demonstrate that such tests are a business necessity or related to job performance.

Racial minorities, especially blacks, should feel highly insulted by the entrenched assumption that they should not be expected to compete against whites on pencil-and-paper multiple choice civil service tests. Not only should they speak out against such condescending assumptions, they should refuse any and all special treatment, and demand to be treated as capable and responsible individuals. Such attitudes may be the impetus needed to put an end to these ridiculous and embarrassing lawsuits.

Remember the whole point of the civil rights movement: to be treated equally as individuals by the government, without regard to race. Every lawsuit and complaint that cites "disparate impact" confirms that our government believes blacks and other preferred minorities should be held to lower standards in perpetuity.


La Shawn Barber

Freelance writer La Shawn Barber blogs at the American Civil Rights Institute blog.