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Racially unbalanced workforce doesn’t prove disparate impact

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employees won’t win race discrimination disparate-impact lawsuits just by showing that their employer’s workforce isn’t racially balanced. They also have to show that the employer applied a specific or particular employment practice that created the disparate impact.

Recent case: Robert Mendoza sued his employer, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, alleging it discriminated against Hispanics. He claimed the company must have discriminatory policies because its workforce isn’t balanced.

The court dismissed his case, concluding that Mendoza couldn’t point to a specific policy or practice that actually created the unbalanced workforce. (Mendoza v. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, No. B204796, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate Division, 2009)

Final note: On the other hand, it’s not enough for employers to show they have a balanced workforce to defeat discrimination complaints, either.

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