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Affirmative Action And Justice Essay, Research Paper

Affirmative Action is a hot issue in the United States, with wide differences of

opinion over the correct way to expand opportunity for people who have

historically been discriminated against. With the philosophical difference

behind the legal and political tensions is deep. One side wants a total rollback

of affirmative action programs, making individual merit the only criterion for

hiring and promotional considerations. While the other extreme wants affirmative

action to be pushed until the racial makeup of all professions mirrors the

racial makeup of US society exactly. While both these sides are to the greatest

ends of the argument there needs to be an approach to come up with a medium.

This could include laws to force companies to vigorously recruit and develop

minorities for professional and managerial jobs. However, there should not be

any outright quotas, which reserve a certain number of slots for particular

minority groups. This will cause resentments and constitutional obstacles down

the road. The objective here is not to do away with affirmative action in one

sweep, rather to seek out strategies to help promising minorities and match them

with opportunities they have rightfully earned and deserve. Now, what does the

law say? Although Title VII has an affirmative action component part of it, most

regulations stem from a requirement imposed by Executive Order 11246. There are

a lot of misconceptions about affirmative action and what laws companies actual

have to follow. One is that all companies are required to adhere to the laws

under affirmative action, this is not the case. Executive Order 11246 states

that once a company enters into a contract with a federal governmental agency

that exceeds $10,000 it must abide by the affirmative action rules and

regulations. These regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:

to post in a conspicuous place, available to all applicants, provisions of the

nondiscrimination clause; include in contractor’s advertisements that all

qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color,

religion, gender, or national origin; include statements of these obligations to

all subcontractors; and furnish all information and reports to the Secretary of

Labor for purposes of investigation to ascertain compliance with the executive

order and its regulations. In addition to the above regulations if a corporation

enters into a contract of $50,000 or more additional requirements are put in

place. A Corporation must develop a written action plan within 120 days of the

beginning of a governmental contract. They must also perform a workforce

analysis, which must indicate how many women and minorities are in job

categories ranging from unskilled workers to managerial employees. These are the

basic rules and regulations companies and corporations must follow in order to

be within the compliance of the law. There have been several major court

decisions that have helped define the application of the statutes and

regulations. One of the biggest and earliest cases was that of Regents of the

University of California v. Bakke. This case was not against an individual’s

employer rather against a university. Bakke applied to Davis for two consecutive

years but was rejected on both occasions. In both years, applicants with lower

scores than Bakke were admitted due to a special admit program. Davis had a

program that says applicants who are not of minority status are totally excluded

from a specific percentage of the seats in the entering class. When the State’s

distribution of benefits hinges on the color of a person skin, that individual

is entitled to a demonstration that the challenged classification is essential

to promote a tangible state interest. For this reason the court’s judgment was

that Davis’ special admission program was invalid under the Fourteenth

Amendment. Another case, that did deal with the employer-employee relationship,

was United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO v. Weber. In this case a white

employee sued because his employer adopted a voluntary affirmative action plan

reserving for black employees fifty percent of the openings in a training

program. Because the company had put in place a voluntary program to eliminate

an apparent racial imbalance the Supreme Court held that the program was

permissible and did not unnecessarily trample the rights of white employees.

These are just a couple of the more prominent cases that have help set the

standards for future cases involving affirmative action. There are several

regulations in place that penalize corporations for not following affirmative

action rules and regulations. These penalties for noncompliance can range from a

slap on the hand to major penalties and fines. The publishing of the names of

nonconforming contractors is a minor penalty. Some other more serious penalties

are as follows: recommending proceedings be instituted under Title VII; the

Attorney General bringing suit to enforce the executive order; recommending the

Department of Justice that criminal proceedings be initiated; canceling,

terminating or suspending the contract; and debarring the contractor from

entering into future government contracts. These penalties were enforced during

the case of Local, 28, Sheet Metal Workers v. E.E.O.C. The court imposed that a

29% nonwhite membership goal be meet by a certain date and a $150,000 fine be

placed in a fund intended to expand nonwhite membership in the apprenticeship

program. In order for these penalties to be avoided there are several steps

management should take to be in compliance with the law. First, ensure that

hiring, promotions and training are open and fair to all that apply. Work with

both unions and employee groups if an affirmative action plan is to be but in

place to get early approval from all constituencies affected. Make sure

voluntary plans meet judicial requirements. So all employees understand the

plan, provide periodic training explaining the purpose and the intent of the

plan. Training is the easiest way to deter a lot of misconceptions that

employees have about affirmative action. If affirmative action is handled in the

proper way everyone, minorities, females and whites, wins in the long run.


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