Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity the Policies


The affirmative action is considered to be socially disruptive as it supports the social divisions. "The affirmative action strives to divide citizens into different groups rather than emphasizing on equal treatments and granting the deserving respect on the basis of merit" (Ezorsky, 1991) This has a gloomy consequence of predicting an intimidating atmosphere with each of the groups accusing others and throwing abuses. (Ezorsky, 1991)

Again simply identifying a group as a beneficiary for special privileges does not entail a particular member of that group the necessary right to have special treatment. The process also involves a cyclical process whereby the positions evacuated by moving up of a specially benefited member of the group through affirmative action, is again to be filled in by another less meritorious member of that group. Even the justifications of the affirmative actions are seen as malicious due to its cyclical nature. Even though the programs are in operation since more than twenty years ago, no targeted period for its culmination is seen in near future. Moreover, no timeframe can ever be possible to be demarcated for total disappearance of the social disparities. "Without proper identification of the types of injustice and without imposing restrictions on the remedial measures the affirmative action policy is predicted to be a great failure with sheer wastage of resources." (Blanchard; Crosby, 1989) Finally the Affirmative Action policy is criticized to have distracted the American society from really accomplishing a society which does not give importance to color.

The enforcement of both Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, including what agencies control the enforcement of both acts

The policies of Affirmative Action necessitate the employer to devise an appropriate policy and effectively implement that. "The Affirmative Action plan is required to include the rules and procedures in a written document subject to annual monitoring" (Blanchard; Crosby, 1989) The policies extended as a solution to the problem areas and restrictive activities are also to be laid down in an institution specific manner. The accomplishment of the objectives of the program depends upon honest implementation of the program by the employer along with reductions of the obstacles in extending equal job opportunities. The legitimacy of the programs of Affirmative Action particularly involving preferences are subject to review. Legal and constitutional sanctions must be there behind such preferences. The Affirmative Action plan in order to have a legal sanction must include transient, and personalized acceptable solutions for the problems it strives to solve. The solutions so extended must be accomplishing the public interest and should not interfere with the legal rights of the other groups. (Greene, 1989)

The enforcement of Affirmative Action first initiated in the construction industry. The implementation of affirmative action in work places is forced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the Department of Labor. The possibilities in promotion of integration by race and sex are seen in formulation of a well targeted affirmative program by Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. As a remedy to the age old discrimination in the work places the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs formulated government-wide programs in 1965. A plethora of affirmative action measures were undertaken to enhance the employment opportunities for the minorities especially in the field of federal funded construction projects. (Affirmative Action: Background)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been granted enough authorizations to enforce the affirmative action programs against an employer as a solution for identified adverse discrimination of job opportunities against the minority race. However, its scope is confined by its own limitations. The OFCCP not being restricted to respond to the complaints similar to the EEOC there is every possibility of taking a realistic role in this sphere. The OFCCP may focus on the most outrageous violations converging on the large enterprises where the effects are prominent. However, the expected result has not largely been accomplished. The budgetary limit of $59 million in the year 1995 along with the staff of 918 the OFCCP is considered to have meager resources for accomplishing the responsibility of inspecting 150,000 workplaces engaging 28 million persons in the projects of federal contractors constituting 25% of national workforce. The trend of reviewing about 4000 compliances per annum schedules the review of each workplace once every 38 years. (Bergmann, 1996)

The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1991, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are being enforced by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Executive Order 11246 of 1956, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veteran Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and the Title-I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are being enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the Department of Labor. The Title IX-Educational Amendments of 1972, the Title VI and Rehabilitation Act-504 are being dealt by the Office of Civil Rights. The Immigration Reform and Control Act is being enforced by the Office of Homeland Security, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (Equal Employment Opportunity laws and their Enforcement Agencies)

Important cases in which both Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity have been represented, the outcome of such cases and the repercussion of those outcomes.

During the early part of the 70s, affirmative action which initially did not give importance to race started giving prominence to the concept of race. (Barber, 2004) The affirmative action was first faced a constitutional examination in the case of University of California v. Bakke in the year 1978. The UC-Davis's medical school in consonance with the Affirmative Policy proclaimed two separate principles for admission. There was a reservation of 16 slots to be allotted to blacks after being adjudged in less rigorous standards. The Allan Bakke knocked the door of the court being rejected and complained about the violation of Act. (Richey, 2003)

The medical school advocated the necessity of the discrimination against Bakke as a redress for past discrimination against the blacks and also seen the enhancement of learning of the medical students with skin color diversity leading to more robust interchange of ideas. The court rejected the plea of the school authorities and condemned the racial quota and instructed for admission of Bakke. (Barber, 2004) The remarkable decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Bakke led Justice Thurgood Marshall to react and advocate the necessity of racial classification to redress the age old discrimination against the blacks. His opinion was rejected as only four out of the total nine justices could agree for the Constitutional permissions with regard to the preferential quota and racial set asides. A fundamental departure is seen since then in the discourses over the affirmative action. (Richey, 2003)

The Court has to admit, in the interests of diversity, the admissions of lesser qualified minorities as a forceful state interest. (Barber, 2004) The objective has become to emphasize on the diversity instead of on black white equality. The idea of strengthening the group was replaced by empowerment of the individuals. Marshall in 1978 opined that "the status of blacks presently in America presents an awful picture, however, is regarded as the unavoidable outcome of age old inequality." (Richey, 2003) In terms of comfort or achievement the racial equality is not seen in near future. Marshall supported his view citing empirical analysis on seven categories including the proportion of black representation in five influential professions. A diversification of the debate was seen in after Bakke. According to John A. Powell, a law professor at Ohio State University and executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in United States, no more talk was leveled for creation of a society ensuring racial equality. (Richey, 2003)

The hiring of minorities in skilled positions by the Louisiana plant after completion of the introduced in-plant program for the worker was challenged in 1979 in the case of United Steelworkers of America v. Weber. An agreement was signed for reservation of half of the training program in favor of African-American employees and the rest half to the whites. The positions to be filled up were to be determined by way of seniorities in each group, indicating the possibility of some junior African-American being admitted earlier than the senior whites. The claim of the white employee that the training program is in contravention to the provisions enshrined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was rejected by Court on the ground of legal sanctions behind enforcement of affirmative action by the private companies with a view to eradicate the conventional racial disparities. The Supreme Court…