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Questions about Affirmative Action Law

What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action is a policy or program that has been constituted to combat prejudice and bias in society. Through certain processes and laws, the government favors the minority or deprived sections of society. Racial groups (African American or American Indian) and sex (women) are usually the two common groups which receive these benefits but affirmative action includes many other categories as well. The basis behind such a law is to minimize past mistakes and build a culture of equality. For example: As per statistical figures, due to the existence of racism, there are fewer African American lawyers in society. The affirmative action policy on this would be to provide reservations for African Americans and lower their entrance requirements. This would ensure there are more African American lawyers, thereby increasing their representational number and leading to higher acceptance by others in the same field.

Listed below are a few questions answered by the Lawyers on issues related to affirmative action.

What is the main similarity and difference between affirmative action for minorities and the Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP)?

To begin with, the main similarity between the two is both give hiring preference to a closed or select group of people. The main difference is that affirmative action for minorities or women, benefits people based on what they are born into or born as—a particular race or gender respectively. An individual from a particular race or gender may receive lesser opportunities on an average and special privileges are offered to each individual within these groups irrespective of whether they need or deserve it. Additionally most employers are required to remain neutral because of the laws surrounding cases of race and sex discrimination. The DVAAP, on the other hand, grants preference to people based on their specific background and experience. Individuals qualify based on their seniority and disability. The justification of granting privileges to this section is that these people have made worthy sacrifices for their country.

Why is the concept of affirmative action criticized by some people? What is the advantage and disadvantage of eliminating affirmative action law?

The concept of affirmative action is subject to criticism because decisions are not made on merit or the capabilities of a person. Instead factors which are usually immaterial such as race, gender and so on are highlighted and benefits are provided based on this. The advantage of abolishing affirmative action could lead to decisions based on merit and ability rather than uncontrollable, irrelevant factors of race and gender. The disadvantage, however, could be that these races or genders are a minority and their pace of growth could be relatively low and discrimination against them could continue.

What effect or impact does affirmative action have on employees and a workplace?

The goal of affirmative action is to seek equal treatment and facilitate a level playing field among individuals belonging to a minority group, especially in obtaining jobs and other opportunities. While doing so, a quota system or reverse discrimination may be triggered where other employees could feel their skill and hard work is not being considered or rewarded. And people are being hired instead based on their race and gender. This could then escalate into workplace conflicts and demoralized employees.

I am 59 years old, suffer from arthritis and need to perform strenuous work which the doctor has asked me to avoid. There are other employees who can substitute me but my employers are unwilling to do so. I feel I am being discriminated, what are my options?

As per the Fair Employment and Housing Act, your employer is liable to provide reasonable accommodation for your disability so you can perform the essential duties of your job. A reasonable accommodation limits the number of times you need to perform a particular duty and ensures other employees are required to complete tasks which you are unable to do because of the disability. After informing your employer of your concerns, if your employer still does not concede, a claim file of discrimination can be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. A complaint can be filed online as well using the following link:

Should an employer attach an affirmative action form along with the employment application? Should there be an option to decline as well?

In most cases the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) or affirmative action section is separate from the rest of the applicant’s information. This is done to avoid any complications or accusations of discrimination. If all the information is together, the applicant may argue that since the employer was aware of the EEO information, it could have been the reason for rejection. Even if there is an option to decline providing such information, it could be a potential route to receive complaints.

Affirmative action has its advantages as well as disadvantages. It is a controversial topic because some feel it is a form of racism as it focuses on preferences based solely on race rather than skill or merit. Usually democrats, who are more liberal, are in favor of this and most republicans, conservative by nature, are against it. Nonetheless, this action would benefit some while it may deny others. To know more about affirmative action and its implications, whether you are applying to universities or for jobs, consulting Experts could be helpful.
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