Disparate Treatment Claims


I think my employer treats women differently than men.



It happened to me: A Real Life Story



What does "disparate treatment" mean?


"Disparate treatment" refers to a policy or practice that explicitly treats women differently than men.


What kind of claims can be brought as a disparate treatment claim?


Sexual harassment, unequal pay, wrongful discharge, failure to promote, and pregnancy discrimination claims can all be brought under disparate treatment.


I think that a company policy adversely affects me because of my gender, how do I prove it?


Essentially, you need to prove that your employer had a discriminatory motive in treating you differently because you are a woman. To do this, you must show that:

1. you are a member of a protected group, which you are, being a woman;
2. You sought and were qualified for opportunities that were available;
3. Your employer denied you these opportunities or took similar adverse action towards you; and
4. the opportunities remained available or were given to men with equal or lesser qualifications than you, or men were simply just treated better than you.


What is the difference between disparate treatment and disparate impact?


Disparate impact is when otherwise neutral company policies or employment practices have an adverse effect on women. Disparate treatment on the other hand, is a more direct form of discrimination. Generally, disparate treatment occurs when you are treated differently because you are a woman. An important difference to note is that proof of a discriminatory motive, which is required in disparate treatment cases, is not required in disparate impact cases.


Are there times when an employment policy or practice may legally treat women different than men?


Yes, this is what is called a bona fide occupational qualification. If there is a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for a particular employment policy or practice, such as a business necessity, then it is legal.


What could my employer do to deny my allegations, and how do I respond to its denials?


Your employer will most likely try to show that there is a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the treatment. It could defend its actions by reasoning that the treatment was the result of a business necessity. In order to win your case, you would need to show that the proffered reason is a pretext or a cover-up and that sex discrimination was the true motive.



Legal Glossary


Return to Main Minnesota Page


Return to Types of Discrimination


Return to States