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

References in periodicals archive ?
Despite longstanding employment equity policies and practices mandated by federal legislation (Agocs and Burr, 1992), the challenge of reducing these inequities remains.
Since the introduction of the first Employment Equity Act, in 1986, several employment equity plans had been devised, but none had led to any concrete changes.
This awareness of power imbalances attendant to gendered and raced discriminations in the society and workplace likely contributes to their support for employment equity and antiracism education.
It is hard to know whether Pendakur is critical of the philosophy of employment equity in abstraction or whether his critique is directed at the actual program in place at the federal level.
Canada's Employment Equity Act protects women, aboriginal peoples, members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
In this way, prayer became a tool to harness our natural disgust for racial discrimination, and turn it into an endorsement of employment equity legislation, the NDP's questionable political solution to a difficult problem (Editor: since scuttled by Ontario's new government).
In the implementation of diversity programs, it is essential to provide a basic understanding of related concepts, such as affirmative action and employment equity.
After not going ahead with auto insurance, a lot of us thought, "If we don't go ahead with employment equity we're going to be crucified at the next council meeting.
From pay and employment equity to sexual harassment guidelines, from daycare and paternity leave to gender neutral language, governments are developing legislation that will affect many business sectors in the near future.
Over the next 15 years, Studio D produced an exceptional array of mostly short films and documentaries that focus on women's issues, including sexual abuse, stereotyping in the media, and employment equity.
While there is some public debate about the need for employment equity legislation, the weight of evidence demonstrates that entrenched patterns of discrimination in the Canadian workplace are not changing on their own as time passes, and that effective action must be taken if equality in employment is to be a reality.
The goal of employment equity is to "remove the barriers that prevent the fair, equitable hiring, promotion and training for all workers.

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