Ethnic Affirmative Action in the Workplace

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Ethnic Affirmative Action in the Workplace
The workplace has been under substantial scrutiny over the past thirty years. Everything from privacy rights to gender roles has plagued businesses across the country. In addition to these was ethnicity. People started to realize that businesses did not adequately represent the population. State and federally funded jobs such as hospitals and police stations came under the most fire for misrepresentation of race. Affirmative action was to be the “end all” on the topic of racial discrimination in the work place. In some areas of the business world it has had a positive effect but in others it has back fired. Several states, one of which is California, no longer allow this program because of the reverse discrimination that has stemmed from it. There have been several cases over the last few decades that have laid groundwork for both support of this governmental initiative as well as opposition. It is not a program that is either right or wrong. It is case sensitive and often very burdensome to implement. Never the less, many companies and governmental institutions across the nation have decided to implement affirmative action to increase the minorities in the workplace.

Affirmative action was a program put into place in the early 70’s to fight the misrepresentation of minorities in the work place. The program calls for the increase of these minorities which have historically been excluded. After the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Title VI and Title VII became the anchor for this legislation. Though it is not required to implement this specific program, the government has placed restrictions on qualification requirements for hiring procedures. Title VII prohibits all employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, and national origin . Title VII does state that the use of race, gender, and national origin are legitimate bases for employer selection. For example, being a woman that is Lutheran could be a permissible job qualification, being black could not. In order to understand some of the confusion and uncertainty behind affirmative action legislation, it must first be understood the basis in which this program was created.

The affirmative action program did not start out at the point it is at today. Prior to the Civil Rights legislation, companies committed exclusionary practices on a regular basis. After the Civil Rights Act companies still found ways to bar the way for minorities. The word “discrimination” was not defined and was taken advantage of by companies across the board. It was then defined by the Supreme Court as “any exclusionary practice not necessary to an institution’s activity.” Many companies still had exclusionary practices that they performed in misleading ways. The government then imposed quotas that businesses were responsible for sustaining. These were to be representative of certain population demographic of the area.

A landmark case that has helped the court system develop law on affirmative action in the workplace was Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education . This was important because it set precedent in how meeting the minority quotas in the workplace would be established. In this instance the Jackson Board of Education laid off several non-minority employees who had seniority to protect their policy of minority employees. The court held that their was greater harm in laying off employees than simply refusing to hire non-minority employees.

A year later, United States v. Paradise established that their should be specific numerical racial quotas for the Alabama Department of Public Safety. In the thirty-seven year history of the state patrol there had never been a black trooper. After twelve years of lawsuits there were still no black employees above entry level positions. This case was important for affirmative action because the Supreme Court ordered the Alabama Department of Public Safety to hire a black employee...
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