We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Disparate Treatment?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Disparate treatment is a concept in employment law in the United States regarding situations where people are treated differently on the basis of membership in a particular class. It is considered a civil rights violation when it involves unequal treatment on the basis of race, disability, sex, creed, age, or ethnicity. This topic is discussed in the Civil Rights Act, a key piece of antidiscrimination legislation in the United States passed in 1964 to address concerns about inequality in settings like school, housing, and the workplace.

In disparate treatment, people are provided with unfavorable treatment like lack of access to employment or benefits on the basis of their membership in a protected class. Employers who refuse to hire disabled workers, for example, would be engaging in disparate treatment and could be liable for legal penalties. Employees may be able to prove discrimination directly, pointing to discriminatory statements or policies, or by inference.

The law specifically provides protection for cases where employers use affirmative action policies or can document a clear need for disparate treatment in favor of people in a typically protected class. Employees with programs to increase employment of people of color, for example, are technically using disparate treatment in their hiring practices, but it is considered legal as part of an affirmative action plan. Likewise, a company with a specific need for people from a specific protected class can hire these people preferentially, as long as the need is clearly documented.

People can sue workplaces for disparate treatment if they are able to prove directly or through inference that a company is making discriminatory decisions. Companies only offering benefits to Christian employees, for example, could find themselves sued by people who are not Christian who want access to those benefits. Employers are generally very careful to avoid favoritism and unfair policies with the goal of giving all employees equal and fair treatment and avoiding legal liability for discrimination.

This should not be confused with disparate impact, a related but different legal issue. This concept involves ostensibly neutral policies, like an education requirement, that tend to have a negative effect on people in protected classes as a result of social inequalities. For example, a hospital requiring that all doctors have medical degrees and board certification is not exercising discrimination, but it may hire fewer women and people of color because these individuals are less likely to be able to go to medical school.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.