Essay, Research Paper: Affirmative Action And Discrimination

Legal Issues

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What is affirmative action? This has been a very interesting question throughout
the past thirty years. Many people would like to answer it with simply the name
given to programs that try to correct past and ongoing discriminations against
women, racial minorities, and others in the work force and in education. Where
this answer may be a good textbook style response, not all people agree with it.
Affirmative action was created out of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It actually went into effect out of an Executive order that was delivered by
President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. He wanted to do more than what the
non-discrimination laws of the time were trying to accomplish. He also wanted to
see minorities and women get a better chance at advancement in their current
jobs. President Nixon, whom also implemented the same Executive order, kept
affirmative action alive. President Ford helped to update affirmative action by
adding the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment
Act of 1974. Years later President Carter created an office to handle
affirmative action cases that dealt with the contract aspects of the original
Affirmative Action plan, and called it the Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Programs. There were three prime aspects of affirmative action that fell into
place. The first was affirmative action in employment. The second area is
affirmative action dealing with contracts. The third area of affirmative action
deals with the area of education. When we look at the affirmative action plans
of employment, this is one area that most all of us have came into contact at
some point in our lives. When you and I go to apply for a job with a company, we
feel that if we are the best qualified for the position that we should receive
it. This is the way that most normal people would feel. With Affirmative Action,
this idea of the best-qualified person for the job is not a reality. Not all
companies still go with the idea of Affirmative Action as a written policy, but
may still have it as an acting practice in their hiring. Throughout the past
thirty years many people have been promoted, hired, or even fired based upon
their color of their skin, or on the basis of their sex. Does this sound like a
very fair thing to do? Most would not think so, but it is a reality that
Affirmative Action has put into play. In May of 1994 at St. Bonaventure
University, the president of the university fired 22 of his faculty members for
being males. He openly admitted that the firings were based on gender and not
qualifications. Some of these professors' even had tenure that were fired.
Needless to say, a group of twelve of the men went to the US Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and brought up charges on the school. This is not the
only example of a bias workplace that is moving in a reverse discriminatory
fashion. There are many other businesses and companies that like to give special
considerations to the minorities and females, just so that they can put off some
appearance that they are trying to be fair to all of their employees. This idea
of hiring anyone that is less qualified than someone else based on the color or
his or her skin is wrong. Discrimination no matter how you want to view it is
not anything that will go away by forcing companies to put into practice a
program that selectively picks the worker that is less qualified, but happens to
fit in the correct minority group or is female. When a company does this it is
setting itself up for internal problems with workers that already work there.
Any idea of discrimination or racism that already exists in the workers may be
heightened instead of lessened. The idea that your coworker didn't have to score
as high on the test, meet the same requirements, or have as much schooling as
you because they are a minority is going to cause most people to feel a bit
enraged. In a business where a person's physical skills are an important part of
the job, such as heavy machinery, hiring a less qualified person could cause
safety issues as well. Would you want someone working a crane around you if they
barely passed the test for operations? From an administrative standpoint the
management may also feel a negative attitude toward being forced to hire someone
who they know doesn't fit the job, but some sort of government program is
telling them too. This could cause internal conflict at even the management
level toward the workers. Contract work between the government and contractors
is another area that was targeted by the Affirmative Action programs. The same
type of safety issues are the first concerns that come to mind when you think of
the government hiring potentially less qualified contractors to do work for
them. The upside to this part of the plan is it helps to break away from some of
the political ties that some contractors have had in the past. It gives some of
the smaller companies a chance to prove themselves. Education is another area of
Affirmative Action that has had its criticisms. The admittance of a student for
educational purposes without having to meet the same requirements as the whole
seems to me to be a bit discriminative in nature. A popular case that has
occurred in our history was that of Regrents of the University of California v.
Bakke (1978). In this case the University had reserved 16 of its 100 openings
for minorities. The other 64 slots had already been filled so because Bakke was
not a minority, his admittance was denied, even though he was more qualified
than his minority competitors. The admittance of a student to a University or
any other college program without having to score as high as the general
population on the entrance exams is another form of Affirmative Action
discrimination. At Ivy League colleges the median GPA of applicants is close to
a 4.0 and SAT scores are close to 1300. The minorities that apply are admitted
with a GPA of less than 3.0 and an SAT score of less than 1000. Is this really
letting in the most qualified and elite students? I really don't see how it
could be. The Affirmative Action programs started off with the idea that our
country was going to try to make up for some of the bad things that happened to
the minorities of our country many years ago. The idea that anybody owes anyone
special treatment for something in our past is a bit unfounded. I agree that
Affirmative Action programs helped to do away with segregation in a lot of
instances and even finally let some of the blacks get into college. This part of
the plan I agree with. The programs are now out of date however. President
Clinton has addressed this issue during his presidency. He has brought about
four standards for all Affirmative Action programs that still exist: no quotas
in theory or practice, no illegal discrimination of any kind, no preferences for
people that are not qualified, and as soon as the program has succeeded it must
be retired. Although the president has stated these guidelines, it hasn't
changed everyone's way of business or thinking. The people who are benefiting
from the Affirmative Action programs that are still around today are people who
never suffered any injustice from our past. Our work force is now being made up
of younger people who never once had the government tell them were they had to
get a drink of water or sit on a bus. Those days have passed and it is time for
our country to move on and let the past rest. Affirmative Action is nothing more
than a legal way to discriminate. If the plans are meant to make up for the
discrimination of the minorities of the past by discriminating against the
majority now, then that is saying that two wrongs make a right. Now the only one
who suffers is the white male who gets rejected for a position for being part of
the majority. Will this whole idea of Affirmative Action really help end the
barriers of discrimination, or will it just enrage the people who are now
suffering because of it and make the situation worse?
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