The Invincible Dogma: Statistical Disparity "Proves" Discrimination

By:  Thomas Sowell
04/03/2012
       
The Invincible Dogma: Statistical Disparity "Proves" Discrimination

A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.  Federal Express was accused of both racial discrimination and sex discrimination. FedEx denied it.

 

A long-standing legal charade was played out again recently, when Federal Express paid $3 million to settle an employment discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Labor.  Federal Express was accused of both racial discrimination and sex discrimination. FedEx denied it.

Why then did they pay the $3 million? Because it can cost a lot more than $3 million to fight a discrimination case. Years ago, the Sears department store chain spent $20 million fighting a sex discrimination charge that took 15 years to make its way through the legal labyrinth. In the end, Sears won — if spending $20 million and getting nothing in return can be called winning.
 
Federal Express was apparently not prepared to spend that kind of money and that kind of time fighting a discrimination case. The net result is that the government and much of the media can now claim that race, sex and other discrimination are rampant, considering how many anti-discrimination cases have been "won."
 
At the heart of these legal charades is the prevailing dogma that statistical disparities in employment — or mortgage lending, or anything else — show discrimination. In both the Federal Express case and the earlier Sears case, statistical differences between the mix of the workforce and the population mix were the key evidence presented to show discrimination.

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Thomas Sowell (photo)

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