Legal Update on ADA Claims of Disparate Impact vs. Disparate Treatment

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


Do you know the difference Between Disparate Treatment and Disparate Impact?

The law recognizes two types of illegal discrimination. Disparate treatment refers to intentional discrimination, where people in a protected class are deliberately treated differently. This is the most common type of discrimination. An example of this would be an employer giving a certain test to applicants with disabilities but not to applicants without disabilities. Disparate impact refers to discrimination that is unintentional. This can involve making a service available to everyone regardless of disability status, but individuals in a protected class, like disability, are negatively affected. For instance, a college makes available pre-recorded video study courses online but the videos lack closed captioning making it impossible for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to access and benefit from the online study courses.

Join us as we review latest developments relating to these types of claims under the ADA. We will review the analytical standards and discuss current legal actions relating to Disparate Impact all the way to the latest Appeals Courts decisions and a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the question of whether disparate impact claims exist under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act. We will also discuss why certain advocacy groups are sounding an alarm that our current Supreme Court could decide the fate of Disparate Impact claims under the ADA and 504.

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Diego Demaya JD, Legal Specialist, Southwest ADA Center at ILRU