Employment Discrimination | Law

Unintended Filters in Hiring Norms That Foster Discrimination

Subtle skews

Kemal M. Lepschoque, LL.M.
Read or Die — HQ
8 min readJun 10, 2024

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is primarily known for guarding against blatant, intentional discrimination in the workplace — someone being overtly mistreated because of their gender, race, or another protected aspect. But, that Title has another, subtler side. It also protects against unintended forms of discrimination, known as “disparate impact”, which occur when seemingly neutral employment policies end up unfairly excluding certain groups of people.

There is somewhere a fashion house that requires all its designers to have studied at specific high-profile fashion schools to qualify for a position. At first glance, this criterion might seem to ensure candidates with a certain standard of training and aesthetics. However, this requirement might unintentionally discriminate against talented designers from less well-known schools or those who are self-taught, potentially limiting diversity within the design team.

If designers who studied at less prestigious institutions or are self-taught notice that nearly all the positions are filled by graduates from a small circle of elite schools, they might see this as a barrier that unfairly excludes them. To challenge this in court under Title VII, these designers would need to demonstrate that the educational requirement unfairly disadvantages them, and isn’t absolutely necessary for successful performance in…

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Kemal M. Lepschoque, LL.M.
Read or Die — HQ

Lawyer | Traveller | Polyglot | 27 x Boosted ✨ adept at simplifying complex juridical concepts into human-friendly language & 60+ countries visited