Disparate impact discrimination occurs when discrimination is not obvious, but an employer imposes certain rules or policies in the workplace but that have a discriminatory effect.

The first case dealing with disparate impact discrimination that reached the U.S. Supreme Court involved a company that required employees to have a high school diploma, with a disparate impact of preventing the hire of minority applicants that were less likely to have a high school diploma.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers against discrimination based on protected characteristics such as gender or race. Disparate impact discrimination often occurs when an employer has skills testing for potential employees or layoffs that affect a large group of people. Individuals who believe they are facing disparate impact discrimination may want to consult an attorney.

An attorney may be able to advise the client about how to proceed whether the alleged discrimination is intentional or results in a disparate impact.