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: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit
: to make a difference in treatment on a basis prohibited by law (as national origin, race, sex, religion, age, or disability) see also bona fide occupational qualification, equal protection, reverse discrimination, suspect class Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the Important Laws section amendment xiv to the Constitution in the back matter
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.