What is Disparate Treatment?

Definition: Disparate Treatment is an intentional behavior or action that is unequally applied to a single individual. It is a discriminatory attitude that occurs when a person is treated differently than the rest of the group, normally involving an individual that belongs to a protected class.

What Does Disparate Treatment Mean?

A legal case can be presented by a person on the basis of disparate treatment. According to the Civil Rights Act, it constitutes an unlawful form of discrimination. In workplaces, disparate treatment can be identified one individual or certain group of people do not enjoy the same privileges, benefits or access as their peers because of a certain quality. These qualities are often called protected classes and they cover areas like gender, age, religion, creed or skin color.

The difference between a disparate treatment and disparate impact is that the latter can happen unintentionally while the former is always an intentional action, whether consciously or unconsciously. This kind of behaviors are normally avoided by companies given that it is a sensible issue within society and a scandal that involves disparate treatments is an undesirable situation for a business.

On the other hand, employees are normally instructed to report cases of potential disparate treatment immediately to deal with the situation before it gets out of the workplace.


Hugo is a 34 years old factory worker born in Mexico. He was hired by the company a few months ago because he is very skilled at performing mechanical jobs. A few days ago he had an unpleasant conversation with his boss, who shared his view about immigrants. He pointed the fact that he didn’t liked people from other countries since, in his view, they are the reason why America is not doing well. Hugo felt that this was a very discriminatory statement but he let it go.

Yesterday, his boss directed the whole workforce to leave their duties at 4pm, since he wanted to give the personnel a break from a though week. Nevertheless, he instructed Hugo to stay working. Hugo identified this behavior as a disparate treatment, since he was the only person who had to stay at the factory. He complained with the Human Resources Department and they quickly fixed the matter by addressing Hugo’s manager.

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