Understanding affirmative action

On behalf of Sullivan Law Group APC posted in workplace discrimination on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Many in San Diego might agree with the assertion that, throughout history, there have been certain demographics that have been discriminated against. Recent years have seen policies and philosophies introduced that have attempted to right those wrongs. Affirmative action is one of them. Most likely have heard of affirmative action, yet widespread misconceptions over the principle may have most confused over what it truly is. 

For example, many may believe affirmative action to be an actual law, yet it is not. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, it actually refers to policies that aimed at improving opportunities (primarily in the workplace and education) for members of the aforementioned groups that have been historically disadvantaged. Thus, a particular company or organization might have an affirmative action policy, yet the law does not require it. 

Proponents of affirmative action policies claim that they are meant to compensate for the many years of discrimination that excluded groups had to endure. Critics of them, on the other hand, argue that such policies themselves encourage reverse discrimination against those demographics society or history views as being privileged, and therefore propagate the very practice they are designed to end. 

The state of California has addressed the issue of affirmative action in the workplace. An amendment added to the Constitution of California in the 1990s prohibited public employers from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to anyone based on race, sex or national origin. The only exception to this rule are those jobs that have bona fide gender-based qualifications. 

One should keep in mind, however, that this ban on affirmative action policies applies only to state-sponsored agencies. Private companies, organizations and institutions can institute such policies if they so choose.