Affirmative Action

Definition

A set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination between applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.  Applicants may be seeking admission to an educational program or looking for professional employment.  

 

Legal Origins

....The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.
-- Executive Order 10925 (1961)
....In administering a program regarding which the recipient [of federal funding] has previously discriminated against persons on the ground of race, color, or national origin, the recipient must take affirmative action to overcome the effects of prior discrimination.
-- Civil Rights Act (1964) (34 CFR § 100.3(b)(6)(i))

Employment: Government Contractors

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order mandating government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." (Executive Order 10925) Since 1965, government contractors have been required to document their affirmative action programs through compliance reports, to contain "such information as to the practices, policies, programs, and employment policies, programs, and employment statistics of the contractor and each subcontractor . . . " (Executive Order 11246). Enforcement is conducted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, US Department of labor.

Employment: General

Employers who contract with the government or who otherwise receive federal funds are required to document their affirmative action practices and metrics. Affirmative action is also a remedy, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where a court finds that an employer has intentionally engaged in discriminatory practices.

The Equal Employment Opportunity commission, created by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforces the following employment anti-discrimination laws: (source: EEOC).

Education

Recipients of federal funds are required to document their affirmative action practices and metrics. Educational institutions which have acted discriminatorily in the past must take affirmative action as a remedy. (34 CFR § 100.3(6)(ii)).

The Office of Civil Rights enforces the following education anti-discrimination laws: (source: OCR)

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