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Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio

Title Vii

Since the passage of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, many employment discrimination suits have achieved legal victory under Title VII of the act, which barred discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin. A liberal Supreme Court, weighing similar employment-discrimination suits, had ruled throughout the 1960s and 1970s that even though employers may not have intent to discriminate, the presence of such barriers as aptitude tests or educational requirements nevertheless constitute a violation of the act. In legal terms, this was known as the "disparate impact" theory--even though a company may not intend to bar protected groups from certain jobs, there may be tests or practices that prevent minorities from enjoying a full range of social and economic opportunities.

Throughout the liberal years of the Court, one cornerstone of this legal issue had remained constant: employers charged with violation of the Title VII statute were obliged to prove in court that tests or other practices were necessary to the functioning of the business. This forced companies under fire to hire consultants (often at great expense) to conduct statistical studies and prove that weeding out applicants via aptitude tests, for instance, was integral to the demands of the job. One significant decision had come in 1971 with Griggs v. Duke Power Company, in which a unanimous ruling, written by Chief Justice Warren Burger, declared that the standardized employment tests had no relevance to the job in question.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio - Significance, Title Vii, New Era, New Majority, Pro-business Climate, What Is White Collar Crime?