Statistical Analysis in Employment Discrimination: Trends and Implications

18 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2018 Last revised: 1 Nov 2018

See all articles by Palmer Morrel-Samuels

Palmer Morrel-Samuels

Employee Motivation and Performance Assessment; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Public Health

Date Written: June 29, 2018


This paper describes an archival analysis of utilization trends and affirmation rates of three statistical tools for documenting workplace discrimination: The EEOC’s 4/5ths rule (which requires that success rates for minorities on screening tests be at least 80% of success rates for non-minorities), Fisher’s Exact Test, and multiple regression. The database for this analysis was compiled by pulling citations for these three tests from all available court decisions mentioning “Discrimination” (but not “price discrimination”) and at least one of these three tests in Bloomberg Law between 1964 (when the Civil Rights Act was passed) and 2017. The resulting corpus contained 306,895 discrimination decisions during the last 53 years -- a corpus which revealed that the prevalence of statistical tests has increased significantly during the last five decades. A heterogeneity of slopes analysis revealed the following: 1) The frequency of the 4/5ths test has diminished during the last 53 years, although its rates of affirmation have remained unchanged; 2) The frequency of Fisher's Exact Test has remained stable during this period, although its rates of affirmation have dropped to a statistically significant extent, and; 3) The frequency of multiple regression has remained unchanged during this period, but its affirmation rate has increased significantly. Following Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, the results suggest that discrimination litigation in coming years will bring: 1) lower affirmation rates for the 4/5ths test and similar univariate descriptive tests; 2) lower frequencies of the FET and similar univariate tests, and; 3) a higher frequency of statistical evidence relying on multiple regression.

Suggested Citation

Morrel-Samuels, Palmer and Morrel-Samuels, Palmer, Statistical Analysis in Employment Discrimination: Trends and Implications (June 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Palmer Morrel-Samuels (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Public Health ( email )

1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
United States
734-368-3348 (Phone)

Employee Motivation and Performance Assessment ( email )

210 Park St.
Chelsea, MI 48118
United States
734-368-3348 (Phone)


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