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 ?
There should be preferential hiring and 63.7 3.62 promotion of black South Africans in employment There should be racial quotas in 53.2 3.36 national sports teams.
Pleas for preferential hiring will get a stony reception in this darkening environment.
Given the problems that go into deciding the validity of the "more-qualified-than-thou" concept, it becomes increasingly less clear as to how anyone can call the practice of preferential hiring "reverse discrimination."
For example, they cited an email from a math professor at the district's Phoenix College alleging preferential hiring of Hispanics.
Critics, mostly religious conservatives, feared that the plan could lead to the adoption of pro-gay curriculum and even preferential hiring practices to boost the ranks of gay employees.
Editorial includes coverage of such specific topics as: racial considerations in admissions policies; prayer in public school; protection against unreasonable search and seizure; preferential hiring practices at religious schools; and, access to student records.
To offer just one example, in the summer of 1996, the conservative federal judge Richard Posner upheld the preferential hiring of a black prison guard in an Illinois boot camp for young offenders.
Many federal agencies are the to provide preferential hiring status to ex-military applicants.
"Priority status has been assigned to issues such as preferential hiring of Asbury Park residents, workforce and entrepreneurial development, and mortgage financing."
(8) The first two questions of the survey dealt with the respondent's personal opinion regarding the Affirmative Action topics of quotas and preferential hiring and promotion of minorities (see Table 1 for descriptive presentation of Questions 1-7d).
In a 1990 survey, almost seven in ten white Americans opposed quotas to admit black students in colleges and universities, and more than eight in ten objected to the idea of preferential hiring and promotion of blacks.
The papers pledged to continue the policy of reinstating ex-strikers as openings occur, and said that of 2,243 workers who walked out in 1995, "only 642 remain on our preferential hiring list," including 614 at Detroit Newspapers, 10 at the Free Press and 18 at the News.

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