Affirmative Action in the Workplace

Affirmative action is a “government, or private, program designed to redress historic injustices against specific groups by making special efforts to provide members of these groups with access to educational and employment opportunities. Affirmative action was created in an effort to change unequal distribution of benefits including positions, income, and property. Since its execution in the United States at 1965, affirmative action has been the hot issue of discussion causing quite a stir in all aspects.         Affirmative action has been encouraged by the government since the mid 1960’s, when chairman Lyndon B. Johnson put government contractors to accept favorable action programs. At the moment, the nation struggled with social, racial, gender, and economic inequality. The concept of affirmative action was set in place with the intention that it would allow disadvantaged minorities, disabled individuals, and women access to equal opportunity employment and educational opportunities. It is the operation of a business or political office in which it makes particular rights of hiring or development to social minorities to make up for previous discrimination against minority. However, many individuals are against affirmation action claiming that it creates reverse discrimination. Because of this, it is unlawful to establish quotas and to meet them entirely from the race or gender. This way, we can be proactive and reduce the chances of reverse discrimination.

Clearly, quotas are illegal. The idea of quotas-hiring people because of ethnicity or gender regardless of qualifications-has never been sanctioned, and is only justified in rare instances when the court deems it so. Just as clear, however, is the fact that, given human nature, the idea of goals and preferences can sometimes change drastically when it comes time for individuals to implement them.

In the late-’60s and early’70s, Americans believed that there would always be enough jobs for everyone. They believed that African Americans who had been left out and discriminated for so long, could finally be included in the equal opportunities without others suffering any of the same economic effects as African Americans. Clearly, that was not the case and that belief no longer exists. Also taking the economic downturn to these trends into consideration, it is easy to understand why many believe it’s time to reexamine the policies. When there are less opportunities and more people fighting for them, then with affirmative action, they are told that some kind of special treatment will be given to somebody else from a minority group, people will definitely become upset. Today, the question of whether affirmative action does or does not cause reverse discrimination is asked quite often. Those who oppose affirmative action would say yes, while affirmative action advocates would say no. As an opponent of affirmative, Frederick R. Lynch, believes that affirmative action makes a color blind society difficult to achieve, if not impossible. Affirmative action, which started out as a means to attain nondiscrimination and equal opportunity, wound up trying to allocate opportunities on the basis of only the two variables of race and gender. The case Brown V. Board of Education is widely known. Linda Brown had to walk a mile every day to get to school. After attempts of trying to get into the school closer to home, Linda’s family was turned away along with other black families. These parents got together to sue the School Board stating that segregation deprived them from equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, providing sociological data that would later help in the court ruling that separation is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Cases like this are the reason that the idea of affirmative action was first needed or thought about. There should be a way for minorities to be able to have an equal opportunity.

The main goal for affirmative action is to create and provide equal opportunities for all, as well as the opportunity to have equal outcomes. Every individual should have the same chance to complete something while education and success is so important. Affirmative action programs makes this possible by trying to ensure that everyone from a minority group gets extra special access to schools and jobs since they would not have the same opportunity as others. However, there are always some downfalls with a new ideas. In 1978, Allan P. Bakke attempted entrance into a medical school but was refused for entrance barely missing one of the spots reserved for general admissions. After being rejected two years in a row, while individuals from the special admissions program were accepted with simnifically lower scores, Bakke filed sue towards the University of California, becoming a vital part of the affirmative action process. His case California V. Bakke, stated that special admissions process violates the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the court ruled in his favor. They decided that schools could still consider race as a factor in the admissions process, but only if it was one of many admissions factors.

Affirmative action gets the support of some people, as it is perceived in the direction towards equality. Affirmative action is basically established from a virtuous and equitable structure with the greatest objectives. As a result, various organizations and segments of public and community support this idea that has been the important driving influence at the success of favorable action like promoting diversity. Diversity as one element among more in college education admissions was later upheld at the Supreme court’s 2003 verdict of Grutter V. Bollinger. Barbra Grutter was a successful business owner and similarly, her application to Michigan Law School was also denied despite her academic qualifications. She was first waitlisted, before later being denied due to what she called racial discrimination. She said that by taking race into consideration, minorities were given an unfair advantage over her, violating the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. However, when the case got to the Supreme Court, they decided that yes, a University could consider race in their application process all while being able to state a compelling reason for classifying based on race and show that the policy is narrowly tailored to further that interest.

When the concept of affirmative action was introduced, it is clear that it was thought of to ensure equal opportunity for all. In no way, was it put in place to make decisions regarding hiring and promotion processes based on race and/or gender. Some employers think that having affirmative action implemented in their company is necessary to comply with the requirements of the Equal Opportunity Laws. Employers mainly implement formal affirmative action programs as a condition of doing business with the government, however an affirmative action program could again be required by a court as well like a remedy for discrimination in the past. The degree to which affirmative action programs seek to get rid of or to reduce discrimination differs widely. Some programs just establish reviews of the hiring procedures for minorities and other affected groups while other programs explicitly favor members of just one group. In these affirmative action programs, minimal work requirements are used to produce the pool of eligible applicants from which members are given choice. Affirmative action involves smaller businesses in two important ways. Firstly, keeping jobs with 15 or more employees from discriminating on the ground of race, color, gender, religion, public origin, and personal ability at practices relating to hiring, compensating, promoting, training, and firing employees.

Today, there are laws and bills in place for some companies that are required to use and take affirmative action in certain workplace situations. For example, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires companies with 50 or more employees to use affirmative action according to those who qualify. Similarly, The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), which was amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act, also requires employers to take affirmative action to hire and better their opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities.VEVRAA requires that contractors with 50 or more employees and a contract of$150,000 or more needs a formally written affirmative action plan program. Another would be the Under Executive Order 11246, that requires contractors and subcontractors with 50 or more employees who have at least one contract of $50,000 or more with the federal government must also prepare and maintain a formally written affirmative action plan program, which has to have been developed within 120 days of the contract commencement and should continue to be updated annually. The program is very serious and should include recruitment, hiring and promotion of women and minorities.

After many years of affirmative action being used in the workplace hiring and management/ promotion processes, people can see that the diversity throughout many occupations has increased by having women in the healthcare and science professions. We can also see the increase of minority groups having more opportunities in many other professions. Along with these great outcomes, there have been some challenges similar to ones mentioned earlier. There have been several other law suits that challenge affirmative action and the programs there are for higher education. There are legislative battles in some of the states, but again, putting it in perspective, there have been legislative battles in many states the past years and there has not been a successful passage of anti-affirmative action laws. While there are many bumps along the way, there is a reality that the people do understand that there needs to be opportunities provided for training, education, and employment opportunities for all qualified individuals no matter their gender, their race, ethnicity or color.

Affirmative action has been a hot topic of discussion since the idea was created and started, so the question has to be asked. Is affirmative action really useful in efficient enough to cause this big debate about. I believe affirmative action was a great concept with very good intentions, however, when the concept is starting up the same problem, there should certainly be another way to deal with it. Discrimination is real and affirmative action is a great start as a method to take on that challenge. However, I do not believe that this will help that situation.

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