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Affirmative Action in the United States

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In the United States, affirmative action refers to equal opportunity employment measures that Federal contractors and subcontractors are legally required to adopt. These measures are intended to prevent discrimination against employees or applicants for employment, on the basis of "color, religion, sex, or national origin".[1][2] Examples of affirmative action offered by the United States Department of Labor include outreach campaigns, targeted recruitment, employee and management development, and employee support programs.[2]

The impetus towards affirmative action is to redress the disadvantages[3][4][5][6][7] associated with overt historical discrimination.[8] Further impetus is a desire to ensure public institutions, such as universities, hospitals and police forces, are more representative of the populations they serve.[9] Affirmative action is a subject of controversy. Some policies adopted as affirmative action, such as racial quotas or gender quotas for collegiate admission, have been criticized as a form of reverse discrimination, and such implementation of affirmative action has been ruled unconstitutional by the majority opinion of Gratz v. Bollinger. Affirmative action as a practice was upheld by the court's decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.[10]
Affirmative action in the United States began as a tool to address the persisting inequalities for African Americans in the 1960s. This specific term was first used to describe US government policy in 1961. Directed to all government contracting agencies, President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 mandated "affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin."[11]

Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson elaborated on the importance of affirmative action to achieving true…...

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