affirmative action

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affirmative action,

in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. The policy was implemented by federal agencies enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and two executive orders, which provided that government contractors and educational institutions receiving federal funds develop such programs. The Equal Employment Opportunities Act (1972) set up a commission to enforce such plans.

The establishment of racial quotas in the name of affirmative action brought charges of so-called reverse discrimination in the late 1970s. Although the U.S. Supreme Court accepted such an argument in Regents of the University of California v. BakkeRegents of the University of California v. Bakke,
case decided in 1978 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court held in a closely divided decision that race could be one of the factors considered in choosing a diverse student body in university admissions decisions.
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 (1978), it let existing programs stand and approved the use of quotas in 1979 in a case involving voluntary affirmative-action programs in unions and private businesses. In the 1980s, the federal government's role in affirmative action was considerably diluted. In three cases in 1989, the Supreme Court undercut court-approved affirmative action plans by giving greater standing to claims of reverse discrimination, voiding the use of minority set-asides where past discrimination against minority contractors was unproven, and restricting the use of statistics to prove discrimination, since statistics did not prove intent.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 reaffirmed a federal government's commitment to affirmative action, but a 1995 Supreme Court decision placed limits on the use of race in awarding government contracts; the affected government programs were revamped in the late 1990s to encompass any person who was "socially disadvantaged." Since the mid-1990s, in a public backlash against perceived reverse discrimination, California and a number of other states have banned the use of race- and sex-based preferences in state and local programs and contracting, and public education. A 2003 Supreme Court decision concerning affirmative action in universities allowed educational institutions to consider race as a factor in admitting students as long as it was not used in a mechanical, formulaic manner. This requirement was tightened by the Court in 2013, which said that courts that approve of the consideration of race in university admissions must be sure that the diversity achieved could not have been accomplished using other means.

In Europe, the European Court of Justice has upheld (1997) the use in the public sector of affirmative-action programs for women, establishing a legal precedent for the nations of the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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.

affirmative action

see POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION.
References in periodicals archive ?
I argue that more arduous organizing deep within unions and marginalized neighbourhoods is necessary to win a comprehensive and legally binding CBA that institutes a stronger employment equity program--one that includes changes to hiring practices and workplace cultures.
Efforts to implement employment equity began in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the federal and Quebec governments sought to increase Aboriginal and Francophone participation in civil service (Agocs 1986).
The implementation of Employment Equity (EE) programs in Canadian institutions, including universities, was intended to combat discrimination against designated groups (women, aboriginals, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities).
The impact of sex and race were found to be similar in the disabled and the non-disabled populations, and continue to be evident in the reports on employment equity in South Africa (Committee EE 2002, 2009).
This new employment equity award has been approved by the company's independent compensation committee.
Despite longstanding employment equity policies and practices mandated by federal legislation (Agocs and Burr, 1992), the challenge of reducing these inequities remains.
On February 27, 2003, Francoise Roy had a good reason to celebrate: finally, the Canadian Human Rights Commission had approved her employment equity plan.
This is a result of many factors, one of which is the Employment Equity [Black Economic Empowerment] Act.
This year's committee report, released March 7, identified Canada's use of the term "visible minorities" in its Employment Equity Act as wording that "may not be in accordance with the aims and objectives of the Convention.
Employment equity policy in the province of British Columbia has undergone a corrosive, back door backlash, compared to Ontario's more classic, or front door, backlash under a similar neoliberal government shift.
promoting employment equity programs and anti-racist workplace education.
Omi and Takagi (1996) describe the Left's ambivalence toward Asian Americans because of suspicions that Asian Americans, especially affluent ones, do not support left-wing struggles such as employment equity.

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