Theories of Discrimination in the Law

The theories of discrimination are important because they allow courts to evaluate discrimination in a legal context.  To be able to measure the existence and extent of discrimination it is necessary to have a theory (concept, or model) of how such discrimination might occur and what its effects might be.  In a legal sense, discrimination can be broken down into either disparate treatment or disparate impact.1Looking through legal treatises and the Internet it is difficult to find good working definitions of the theories of discrimination. No matter if the context is employment, racial profiling, or in death penalty proceedings these theories can be applied and help to understand how a claim of discrimination can be made.

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