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Affirmative Action

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History of Affirmative Action
Human Resources Research Paper
BUSI 526 Section D
October 30, 2010
Aurelia Mouton

Abstract Affirmative action has a relatively short history in the United States. The idea of affirmative action begin to come into play in 1961 when politicians and Presidents alike believed that there needed to be a way to rectify the previous injustices dealt to the minority community in regards to workplace. The text mentions that affirmative action uses “numerical analysis to determine which (if any) target groups the firm is underutilizing relative to the relevant labor market” (Dessler, 2011, 60) and that affirmative action was put into place to eliminate barriers to equal employment. This may be true but from its’ very inception, affirmative action has been met with resistance. History of Affirmative Action Affirmative action has seemed to find its way into the lives of many. It was originally created to make employment opportunities and practices fair for people that were non-white U.S. citizens but has since grown and evolved into much more. The beginning concept of affirmative action was to make right the many years that African Americans were bound because of slavery, discrimination after the abolition of slavery and lack of education that prevented many of them from getting decent jobs. Many positive things can be said about affirmative action when it works; however there are many people that fight against it because of the inequality and injustice it can unseeingly cause. Affirmative action was first started with the Executive Order 10925 (EO 10925) signed into effect by former President John F. Kennedy in March of 1961. This EO said that employers were to make employment an equal opportunity for all qualified personnel, and that they were to make a positive effort to realize true equal opportunity for all. This EO was a foundational building block for the entry way of affirmative action and set the pace and tone for the changes to affirmative action that would later take place. The perception of affirmative action was further defined with the introduction of EO 11246, which was signed into play by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. In September of 1965, former President Johnson issued this order that prevented employers from discriminating against applicants based on race, color, religion and national origin. This EO was later amended to include prohibition of employment discrimination based on gender and takes a strong position for women and minorities. And while the use of quotas was not promoted by the federal government, organizations rarely found ways outside of quotas to put affirmative action into place. Landmark cases involving affirmative action

While there are many cases that involve affirmative action, there are a few that set a major precedence on the way affirmative action should have worked and its importance. In the case of Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980), Earl Fullilove and his colleagues filed a petition saying that the provision of 10% of federal funds go towards minority-owned business was unconstitutional. Congress had long ago recognized that federal contracts were rarely given to minority owned business when dealing with public works. Because of this, the Public Works Act of 1977 was put into play. Fullilove and his colleagues decided to challenge this act citing they lost business due to it going towards minority based employers. This case went to the Federal Supreme Court and the Act was deemed constitutional. Another landmark case that changed affirmative action history was United States v. Paradise. In this case, quotas were used to help promote blacks within the State of Alabama Department of Public Safety because there hadn’t been any black troopers within the department. It took 12 years of fighting the system in order to get numerical quotas approved for the purpose of hiring and promotion over the racism; however the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the federal court in order to integrate the force. There are many other cases that have helped to set the precedence and usefulness for affirmative action. These changes have given blacks the opportunities that they otherwise would not have had within the work force. It has also forced organizations to attempt to promote blacks and treat them fairly within the workplace. But affirmative action is still a sticky situation. While affirmative action has made positive impacts, it has also been viewed in a negative way as well. Many courts have had to uphold some policies while striking down others to keep the law constitutional, and this is not an easy task to do. Tests that were put in place for hiring purposes have been removed due to blacks not making the cut. However, these actions have been questioned by whites who were able to do well on the test. The result: reverse discrimination. Reverse discrimination has been by far one of the largest negative impacts of affirmative action. Most people feel that while affirmative action levels the playing field for blacks and minorities, it mostly punishes whites. Furthermore, reverse discrimination suits have increased and many organizations believe that affirmative action is no longer necessary. Just as there have been landmark cases that support affirmative action, there have been many major cases involving reverse discrimination and these are used to test the validity of affirmative action. One such case is that involving the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. This case involved Allan Bakke suing the University of California, Davis’ medical school because he had been denied admittance two years in a row. He had a higher grade point average than many of the minority candidates that had been admitted. Furthermore, the school maintained a 16% minority quota in order to maintain a diverse student body. The U.S. Supreme Court held that race could be a factor in choosing students to maintain diversity, however the use of strict quotas was deemed unconstitutional. In Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, the Board of Education and the teachers union added a provision to their union contract that wouldn’t allow a greater percentage of minority layoffs over the percentage of employees that were minorities at the time of the layoffs. This meant that if 20% of the personnel were minorities, then no more than 20% of the layoffs could be minorities. This was to sustain the effects of a previous hiring policy to increase the percentage of minority teachers within the school system. The nonminority teachers with seniority challenged this policy claiming that their Fourteenth Amendments rights were violated. At first this decision of the Board of Education was upheld, however the Supreme Court reversed the decision. The majority of the Supreme Court felt that the layoffs were in violation of the affected teachers’ equal protection clause. Therefore, the company had to reevaluate the way they handled the layoffs and their hiring practices and procedures. Finally, in the case of Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, Cheryl Hopwood and 3 other white applicants to the University of Texas sued the school due to the fact that they were rejected admission. The applicants claimed that due to the school’s affirmative action admissions program, they were not admitted and less qualified applicants were. The Court of Appeals ruled the Bakke decision invalid as a factor in using racial quotas to diversify admission. Because the court rejected the legitimacy of racial diversity as a goal when recruiting students, the university was no longer allowed race as a factor to determine admission. In addition to that, the state of Texas mandated that all Texas public universities have to employ race-neutral criteria when selecting students.

Individual states’ views regarding affirmative action Many states have contributed to the development and slow fade out of affirmative action. California proposed Proposition 209 in 1996 that placed a state ban on all forms of affirmative action. This ban would apply to public employment, public education and public contracting. While the ban was met with a lot of controversy, it eventually went into effect in 1997. Philadelphia was one of the first states to promote affirmative action, with the “Philadelphia Order” being one of the most forceful practices to push fair hiring within the workforce. While it was one of the first states to utilize affirmative action practices, it is still one of the longest standing. Philadelphia still operated under the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise or DBE in practice. This policy ensures that 10% of federal highways, bridges and mass-transit construction project contracts go to minority owned businesses. As mentioned before, Texas banned all public universities from using affirmative action practices when determining admission. In addition to that, Washington became the second state to ban state wide affirmative action measures in an attempt to dispel reverse discrimination cases. Florida also followed Texas with a ban to all affirmative action practices related to education and to make admission policies fair across the board.

Conclusion In general, affirmative action today is still a very sensitive subject. While most states have moved away from affirmative action, some states still utilize small measures to continue to maintain some racial equality. Many nonminority workers are still fighting on a daily basis to get these measures removed while many minorities still utilize these measures to their advantage. There can be no way to tell whether life in the workforce would not have been the same without the affirmative action measures that have been set into place. It could be said that because of these previous measures, affirmative action should be able to be phased out over time. But without these previous affirmative action measures, the current workplace and educational system might not be as diverse as it is today. References Anderson, T. H. (2004). The pursuit of fairness: A history of affirmative action. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Brunner, B. (2007). Timeline of Affirmative Action Milestones. Infoplease. Retrieved December 4, 2010 from http://www.infoplease.com/spot/affirmativetimeline1.html
Cornell University Law School (2010). Fullilove v. Klutznick. Retrieved December 4, 2010 from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0448_0448_ZS.html
Dessler, G. (2011). Human resource management. (Ed.), Affirmative action programs (pp. 59-62). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall
Fitzpatrick, L. (2009). A brief history of: affirmative action. Time Online. Retrieved October 30, 2010 from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1908430,00.html
Rubio, P. F. (2001). A history of affirmative action. MS: University Press of Mississippi
UCIrvine. (2010). A brief history of affirmative action. Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Irvine, CA…...

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