David Shulick is a lawyer who specializes in employment law cases, many of which have involved issues of discrimination. And while many cases of discrimination are proven by showing tangible evidence that a discriminatory act has taken place, there are many other instances where systemic discrimination has been cited as the act itself. Systemic discrimination when a policy is enforced that negatively impacts a certain group of people. When it comes to employment law, the term is used in reference to any system that harms or disqualifies certain individuals from jobs or promotions based on their race, sex, age, disability or religion.
Systemic discrimination, in nature, is tougher to prove because it relies on trends rather than an isolated incident. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has pursued this type of discrimination aggressively in the past few years through encouraging advocacy groups and third party agencies to report this type of activity. With the implementation of the EEOC Systemic Task Force has come an increase of systemic discrimination cases, however many have not held up due to lack of sufficient evidence.
For example, within recent years the state government of Iowa faced allegations of racial bias in regards to all of the employment decisions their executive branch has made since 2003. It was a class-action suit in which the class involved nearly six thousand black applicants who had not been subject to any obvious act of discrimination, but rather an alleged bias by the hiring staff. In order to supplement their claim, the class relied upon The Implicit Association Test, which was developed by a professor from the University of Washington. The judge ruled that the theory was not enough to support the claims of the class; and the charges were dropped against the state of Iowa.
While this important case helped determine the weight of systemic discrimination claims, that doesn’t mean that weight could very well increase in years to come.