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What prevents disparate treatment of workers?

Federal laws prevent discrimination concerning the hiring and treatment of workers. In other words, while discrimination may have been absent from a hiring decision, employers may violate federal law by treating workers differently in matters such as salaries and wages.

A job applicant has to prove four elements while prosecuting discrimination in hiring. These are comprised of: proving that the plaintiff is in a protected class such as race or gender; that the employee was qualified for an open position; that the employee was denied that position; and that the employer filled that position with a person who was not in the same protected class.

To prove discrimination or disparate treatment the worker must show four other elements. These include: that the employee was a member of a protected class; that the employee was meeting the employer's legitimate job expectations; that the worker suffered an adverse employment action; and that similarly-situated employees outside the protected class were treated differently.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over Minnesota, reversed the lower court's dismissal of a disparate treatment lawsuit earlier this month. In that case, a white man received a higher-ranking position at higher pay than two African-Americans who were hired to perform the same work for the same supervisors.

The court found that all three employees essentially applied for the same jobs, but were awarded different positions at different salaries. The three workers had different backgrounds, but their job qualifications were not different. A supervisor also engaged in dissembling by making a false denial with ranking the employees, which may indicate a cover-up of discrimination. Even though a job applicant received a salary higher than requested, discrimination may still exist if the worker is paid less than other similarly-situated employees, according to the court.

Employers who engage in discrimination in the hiring and treatment of employees, or who retaliate against employees for filing these claims, may face serious legal and financial consequences. Procedures on the hiring, payment, promotion and discipline of workers should be formulated to prevent discrimination or to even give the appearance of disparate treatment, and to help prevent these employment disputes and other business litigation.

Source: Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Smith v. URS Corporation, No. 13-3645 (8th Cir. Oct. 14, 2015)," Accessed Oct. 26, 2015

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