Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Statistical Analysis of Adverse Impact: A Practitioner's Guide

Disparate impact claims are a particularly interesting area of employment law. Employment law often involves a collaboration of HR day-to-day folks with employment law lawyer folks. With disparate impact claims, however, there is a third component that is often not within the expertise of HR or lawyers: statistical analysis.

Stephanie Thomas, who my readers may remember as a guest-blogger here (ex. Statistical Analysis of the Twombly Era) has published a new book that helps to bridge the gap between the three disciplines mentioned above: Statistical Analysis of Adverse Impact: A Practitioner's Guide. Ms. Thomas was kind enough to provide a copy (pictured). The book provides a great introduction into the law and statistical analysis regarding adverse impact.

For the math-averse, it starts with simple and easy to follow examples of coin toss games. While some of the statistical analysis gets into scary equations with unrecognizable symbols, Ms. Thomas does a nice job of providing the "gist" of the various tests. If you need the mathy stuff (is mathy a word?) it's there, but you don't need to perform the calculations yourself to get the point of the discussion.

The book covers the basics, from hiring to promotions to reductions in force. It also includes some discussion of current events. For example, there is a discussion on recruiting in social media. And, particularly timely (though always relevant), a chapter on using unemployment status as a screening tool.

All told, it's a helpful resource for HR and employment lawyers who want a handy reference on the topic. As Ms. Thomas bills it: "A non-technical guide to assist HR professionals and legal counsel in working proactively with statistical consultants."

Note: You may also recognize Ms. Thomas as the host of The Proactive Employer podcast, which I've appeared on a number of times. Most recently for discussion of third party retaliation.

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.