Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity Term Paper

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Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity

The policies of affirmative action aiming at assisting the black Americans are of recent origin. The policies have sought its origin to varied sources like legal structure, executive instructions, and court rulings. It was during the last three decades that these policies were being developed and they have become debatable as well. (Legal History) During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, a large number of African-Americans officiated in important public posts inclusive of two senators and 20 members in the House. However withdrawal of sustenance for reconstruction by the federal government in the late nineteenth century, the benefits extended to African-Americans were wiped out and substituted by a system of legal segregation such as that of Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans. (Affirmative Action: Background)


Descriptive information regarding the evolution of Affirmative action and the Equal Opportunity Act- and the opposition of such laws

The segregationist maxim of "separate but equal," depicting separation of races in public places like schools, transportation, etc. was upheld in 1896 by the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, of course, ensuring the opportunities extended to the different races are taken to mean as equal. The rebirth of the notion of affirmative action in present times was traced to June 25, 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt strived to prevent a civil rights movement in Washington organized by A Phillip Randolph and issued an Executive Order entailing the defense contractors to undertake ensuring of indiscriminate employment opportunities in respect of the projects being funded by Government. Extension to the executive order was made to cover all the federal contractors and subcontractors. The African-American communities and the promoters of civil rights movement exerted pressure on the subsequent Presidents for ensuring increasing and indiscriminate job opportunities for the marginal communities. (Affirmative Action: Background)

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 endeavored to refrain from providing discriminatory payment at different rates to both genders in jobs involving equal skill, effort and responsibility. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 strived to ensure equal employment opportunity with inclusion of a separate section in this regard. Title VII, a section in the Act prohibited the employers having more than 25 employees, to avoid hiring persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or nativity. This section also prohibits its interpretation in any sphere with a view to acquire privileged treatment by a group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or nativity. However, it is noticed to have given scope for affirmative action in some instances of discrimination. The section Title VII, has since served as a reference for the adversaries of affirmative action policies. However, the out break of executive orders and court decisions have roused much controversy. (Legal History)

The phrase 'affirmative action' was brought to popular debate when it was used by President Kennedy in the Executive order No. 10925 enforcing the federal contractors to take affirmative action in respect of equal treatment of the applicants irrespective of their differences in religion, sex and nativity. The Order also motivated for wider coverage of the eligible minorities those who were formerly ignored. This is considered as the first official use of the much debated phrase marking the transition of the nation from a legitimate slavery society to a society which is color-blind. (Knickerbocker, 2003) President Johnson subsequently issued a similar order. All emotions were attached to the order of Kennedy and it was further strengthened by President Johnson just one year later when three civil right volunteers were killed by the group Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in 1964. President Lyndon Johnson issued the Executive Order 11246 sanctioning establishment of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in the Department of Labor for implementation of the provisions with regard to indiscriminate and affirmative action. In 1967 the executive order was modified to extend its coverage to prohibit discrimination in terms of sex and forced the federal contractors to expand employment opportunities to women and also enable them to work without any threat. The Executive order 11246 is considered to be the most appropriate federal agenda in ensuring equal opportunities to the minorities. (Affirmative Action: Background)

The discrimination of the employed persons in the age of group 40 years and above in respect of hiring, emancipation, payment, elevation, perks are protected by Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The privileged engagement of disabled veterans and matured experts of Vietnam era found suitable otherwise were ensured by the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972. Soon after a year however, the Act had to be modified for extensive coverage of affirmative action in respect of employment and promotion of the disabled persons by the federal agencies and contractor. The amendments incorporated highlight the use of affirmative action as the equilibrating means of divergent motives. The affirmative action was taken to mean as the extension of adequate prospects for competition and not as a guarantee for success. (Affirmative Action: Background)

The prohibition of discrimination against otherwise eligible but disabled persons are imposed by Title I of Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Sections 501 and 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Directives for provisions of usual accommodations to the disabled persons are also issued in these sections. Prohibition on inquiring about the status of citizenship of the person at the time of hiring is imposed by the Immigration Reform and Control Act with a view to avoid discriminations on the ground of nativity. The seven prohibitive decisions of the Supreme Court were reversed by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and reiterated the rights provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Equal Employment Opportunity laws and their Enforcement Agencies)

The Government as well as the society found it appropriate to make efforts to put right the past injustices and reduce the present inequalities during the 1960s and 1970s, when the notion of Affirmative Action was started and promoted. The efficacy of the Affirmative Action was challenged by some critics accusing it as a unique concept of recent origin leveled by the liberals in contravention of the conventions of history. Widespread protests with antipathy of the white resulted as a consequence of the materialization of the provisions relating to Affirmative Action. This caused racial violence in corporate America and academic campuses. (Innis; Innis, Advice to The President of the United States on matters of Race) The deliberations over the efficacy of the Affirmative Action were revolved around high accusations which often confuses rather than making it clear. (Affirmative Action: Background)

No transparent and widely accepted definition was put forth with regard to the concept of Affirmative Action. As a result of this there is widespread confusion and misrepresentation of the issue. The provisions relating to Quotas were regarded as the most contentious ones and vehemently negated by the promoters of civil right movements and white liberal associates. (Innis; Innis, Advice to The President of the United States on matters of Race) Vehement oppositions to affirmative action ware formulated on the basis of anti-discrimination and unwarranted preferences. It has been observed, however, that a less than 2% of the total 91000 cases relating to employment discrimination before Employment Opportunities Commission related to anti-discrimination cases. The provisions relating Affirmative Action as laid down in the executive orders necessitated adequate educational qualification and job for achieving benefits from affirmative action. (Sykes, The Origins of Affirmative Action)

The affirmative action is criticized on several points. Firstly, the equality necessitates credit to the merit --conferring higher positions to the meritorious candidates. However, the affirmative actions forces preferential treatment in terms of race or gender ignoring the facts of lesser qualifications. Thus the affirmative action is accused of not being fair. Next the Affirmative policies themselves are accused of being unfair, and based on discrimination, race and sex. "It is to be criticized in the sense of its preference to a race, for exerting preference of one gender over another and being discriminatory for imposing penalties to a person for being a member of a particular group." (Mills, 1994)

The affirmative action is simply doing the actions in the similar dimensions by favoring the racial minorities against the whites. The affirmative action is said to be unjust for introducing the quota system and depending upon the social inequalities as the basis for their validation. The notion of social injustice has been traditionally seen as faulty and resulted in impracticable remedies. It is faulty to generalize individual actions and taken actions against the social institutions. Condemning social institutions and social environment for difficulties of persons is considered a method to set aside the actions of the responsible people. (Blanchard; Crosby, 1989)

It has been criticized that the affirmative action strived to benefit the minorities and weaker sex significantly. Simultaneously, the white male population is noticed to have pushed aside so as to give a chance to underprivileged groups to hold the positions which is quite deplorable for them. It is being criticized on the ground that the benefits…[continue]

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