Affirmative Action Programs in the American Society


Affirmative action programs are meant to present employment opportunities for persons such as women, minority and the disabled. This action is meant to ensure that they get equal chances as other people. This action is different than others that are catered to discourage discrimination among staff and workers. Most organizations have faced difficulties in the implementation of the affirmative action program since there are no clear-cut guidelines that can be used in the enforcement and fast adoption of the program among most organizations. This program is most required in the public sector and for it to be successfully implemented, it will need full cooperation and collaboration among the general public, government employees, managers, and all civil servants at all levels of the government.

Human resource departments all over are facing an uphill task as they attempt to implement the program. The definition of affirmative action is seen to vary from one employer to another. According to (Pozgar,2009), affirmative action can be described as efforts of accounting race, gender, and national origin in order to heal historic effects of unfairness among the society. The major role of the program is to make sure that the rights of persons categorized as marginalized i.e. women and minorities are considered when key decisions are taken. As opposed to the common view, this does not mean that the program is meant to create bias among people but is meant to reward persons found to be worthy of certain positions based on merit and qualifications. This program has come under sharp criticism over the years, as it is perceived to reward a select few individuals of the community. Both proponents and opponents of the program have however agreed that affirmative action has attempted to create equity and representation in American society, although not as envisaged by the policymakers of the day.

Affirmative action programs are projected to alter the behavior of the private and public sector employees in a more positive direction in terms of work relations and recognition in the workplace. The laws are selective in terms of area of employment and work requirements. While some laws are relevant to educational institutions, others are relevant to employment agencies and others apply only to private institutions. It is also important to note that the laws governing affirmative action rely to a great extent on the disclosures made by company management. This is the reason that the laws do not take into consideration the number of employees in the company or the size of the firm as it is mainly assumed that the employer will disclose such information voluntarily and management should strive to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

Title VII Discrimination Prohibitions

Title VII was ratified and passed in 1964 as part of the Civil rights Act. It forbids any form, of discrimination that may be perpetuated in the workplace (Colamery, 2009). Due to historical injustices and lack of equal opportunities granted to the select members of the society, the affirmative action plan has been used to create balance in the workplace by encouraging employers to show partiality to minority employees possessing equal credentials in order to create an equilibrium state is reached. Employers can either adopt the action plan voluntarily or through a court order. Failure to adhere to this is punishable under Title VII laws. It has often been perceived that affirmative action seeks to replace white or male workers with women and individuals from minority backgrounds. The truth of the matter is that affirmative action seeks to champion t rights of these people in areas of employment that were predominantly thought to be subjugated by males or individuals from the Caucasian background. A good example of this would be how affirmative action programs have been imposed on the admission of students into law schools so as to create balance in the legal profession which is thought to be subject to white males.

Application of a Court-Ordered Affirmative Action Plan

In cases where the law courts have ordered that an employer or firm take up affirmative action plans, the law limits the employers from hiring and promoting unqualified individuals. While some companies have voluntarily espoused affirmative action plans in order to remedy past actions that limited certain classes of people from receiving equal opportunities, others have been forced to do so by court action. It is also important to note that the plans are only temporary in the workplace as its efforts will be seen to reverse developments if allowed to go on for a long time. Instead, a situation of reverse discrimination will thrive.

Compliance of Business Entities In Line With Affirmative Action Plans

Most firms are bound to comply with Title VII and encouraged to join and contribute to affirmative action programs. Smaller private firms may find it difficult to adapt to such programs as they may not employ a large number of staff and this is the main reason that such companies are not covered by most federal laws although state legislation has regulations have laws that bind firms of all sizes. In spite of this, many companies have found themselves complying with the laws in order to be seen as an equal opportunity employer, to both the government and to their clients.

Qualification to Affirmative Action Plans

Firms not to have complied with the Title VII statutes are liable to penalties that will be imposed by the courts of law. These penalties can comprise criminal proceedings and heavy fines. Most companies contracted by the government are required to have affirmative action plans in place and companies breaching the laws are liable to have their contracts terminated. Individuals who feel that they have been biased against certain opportunities in the workplace can file a claim or a complaint with the EEOC, which can result in them being compensated.


Opponents of affirmative action plans have cited a myriad of reasons against Title VII laws with the most prominent reason being that the law encourages reverse discrimination against Caucasian individuals and Males in the workplace. To the casual observer, this may seem to be the truth but further investigation reveals that the effects of injustices committed in the past continue to haunt modern America. Sectors such as legal and medical fields have an account of hiring and promoting white males with the majority of the lower cadre positions being filled by ladies and persons from minority backgrounds. It is hence the function of such laws to correct the situation to balance out opportunities in the workplace to involve more ladies and minorities.


  1. Colamery, S. (2009). Affirmative action: catalyst or albatross. New York: CRC Publishers.
  2. Pozgar, D. (2005). Legal aspects of health care administration. Sydney: Ocean View Publishers

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