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Courts Must Apply Disparate-Treatment and Disparate-Impact Analyses Separately

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 540 U.S. 44 (2003) (0 other reports)

Author: Wayne D. Garris

In Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, +540 U.S. 44 (2003), the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether an employer's refusal to rehire an employee who was previously terminated for violating workplace conduct rules, based on a positive drug test, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

An employee filing an employment discrimination lawsuit may assert two types of claims: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment occurs when the employee is treated differently based on his or her protected characteristic, e.g., disability. Disparate impact occurs when an employer applies a policy that appears neutral and nondiscriminatory on its face, but has a disproportionate impact on a particular protected class of employees.

In this case, the Supreme Court did not answer the question that was raised on appeal. Instead, the Court reversed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' holding in favor of the former employee. The Court held that the 9th Circuit improperly used a disparate-impact analysis in a disparate-treatment case.