Regulating the Social Pollution of Systemic Discrimination Caused by Implicit Bias

27 Sep 2012 11:10pm L. Elizabeth Sarine 

Incidents of discrimination due to implicit bias, or an unconscious prejudice in favor of or against certain groups, are extremely difficult to challenge in court because plaintiffs alleging discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause must prove that the discrimination was purposeful. Since our legal system often fails to provide relief where implicit bias has caused systemic discrimination, advocates for equity and inclusion should explore preventative measures that guard against the harms of this kind of systemic discrimination. This Comment argues that a new term “social pollution” should be used to properly classify systemic discrimination caused by implicit bias as a problem that should be regulated. First, this Comment discusses the pervasiveness of implicit bias. Then it discusses the Intent Doctrine in equal protection cases and explores reform proposals that ineffectively attempt to address the difficulty of proving implicit discrimination in Title VII disparate- treatment cases. Finally, this Comment uses environmental pollution to introduce the concept of social pollution and explores prospects for using environmental statutes as models for regulatory reform proposals that address the social pollution of systemic discrimination caused by implicit bias. 

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