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Does Discrimination Have To Be Intentional?

During the holiday season, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is included and no one feels discriminated against. This can sometimes get even more complex, because not every act of discrimination must be intentional or malicious. If a policy results in discrimination against a specific minority group, it can be discriminatory even though no intent was there to disadvantage those people. If you feel as though you are in this type of situation, contacting an attorney may be your best option. Reach out to us today.

Intent Is Irrelevant

Too many workers are familiar with being discriminated against at work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deals with approximately 76,000 complaints per year, with significant amounts of these claims either settling or going to court. However, there is no way to tell how many of these charges were filed after acts of overt discrimination, and how many were filed after behavior that indirectly impacted the filer (and a minority group to which they belonged).

The average person may believe that discrimination must always be intentional and blatant. However, the term “disparate impact discrimination” was coined to describe the effect on individuals who suffer from a policy that is discriminatory in fact, even if it is not on paper. If an employment decision is made because of any link to a protected characteristic, it runs the risk of having a disparate impact on people with that characteristic—regardless of whether that effect was intentional.

Difficult To Judge

Because discrimination does not have to be intentional in order to open up an employer to liability, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when you may have cause to file a charge with the EEOC or with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). Employers can make decisions based on protected characteristics if there is a legitimate business necessity that requires they do so (for example, requiring that certain jobs involving constant interaction with English-speaking customers be filled by people who speak English fluently). But sometimes, the justification may appear legitimate when it is not.

Even if an employer asserts a business necessity for discriminatory intent, the employee may attempt to show that there are alternative ways to reach the same goal without discriminatory policies. This is not an easy task, but it can be done. Upon meeting this burden of proof, you may be entitled to back pay or other restitution, or in some cases, you may have the option to be rehired. Each case is different, and seeking the help of an attorney can increase your odds of an appropriate outcome.

Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney

Discrimination may not be intentional at times, but this does not mean that it cannot affect lives. If you suspect you have been discriminated against unintentionally or through disparate intent, contacting a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney at the firm of Hitchcock & Potts can be a start to getting justice. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is happy to assist you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. 

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