Clustered Bias

55 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017 Last revised: 26 Jan 2018

Date Written: January 15, 2018


Agencies, advocates, and courts regularly and repeatedly fail plaintiffs who have experienced intersectional discrimination based on more than one personal identity trait. Nearly thirty years after intersectionality theory was first introduced to legal scholarship, however, its insights have yet to be effectively integrated into antidiscrimination advocacy and doctrine. This Article borrows the contributions of intersectionality theory and explores its critiques to develop a novel “cluster framework” for bridging the divide between the theory and civil rights jurisprudence. Using race-sex discrimination as a lens, the proposed framework relocates intersectional discrimination wholly within a traditionally protected class, illuminating similarities and differences in discrimination across groups and subgroups. This Article concludes with three concrete proposals to implement the cluster framework such that the antidiscrimination doctrine will better recognize and remedy intersectional discrimination.

Keywords: Civil Rights, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Civil Procedure, Antidiscrimination

Suggested Citation

Elengold, Kate, Clustered Bias (January 15, 2018). 96 N.C. L. Rev. 457 (2018), UNC Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

Kate Elengold (Contact Author)

UNC School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States

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