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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Essay on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Definition of Equal Opportunity

Equal Opportunity is a term that has various implications and meaning.  There is however no common definitions of Equal Opportunity (Rabe, 2002).  British Council Equal Opportunity policy defines Equal Opportunity as “treating people fairly and without bias and about creating conditions in the workplace and wider society that encourage and value diversity and promote dignity.  It is also about trying to redress past imbalances and ensuring that dealings with clients, customers and suppliers are conducted in a constructive way which does not give rise to unjustified discrimination and supports appropriate inclusion” (British Council, 2008). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2002) defines “Equality of Opportunity” as “Formal equality of opportunity requires that positions and posts that confer superior advantages should be open to all applicants.  Applications are assessed on their merits, and the applicant deemed most qualified according to appropriate criteria is offered the position. Alternatively, applicants are winnowed by fair competition, and the winner or winners get the superior advantages.” 

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US Laws ensure that “Equal Opportunity” is protected especially in workplaces. Different U.S. laws show and guarantee various manifestations of Equal opportunities. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) ensures equal opportunity by prohibiting employment bias and unfairness based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. US laws further guarantee equal pay for equal work in the same organization for both men and women and thus removes gender discrimination (Equal Pay Act of 1963). Furthermore, equal opportunities arte guaranteed for qualified personnel individuals with disabilities by sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employers from discriminating against female workers based on pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical condition.  The Family Medical and Leave Act entitles federal employees of up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for the care of a son or daughter who is just born, the placement of the son or daughter for adoption or foster care, the care of spouse, son or daughter or parent of an employee who has a serious health condition or if the employee has a serious health condition that makes him unable to perform his functions. 

All these efforts manifest the desire of the lawmakers to create an environment of equal opportunities by making its fair practices an obligation for individuals and their organizations. Most of the European countries, UK and Australia have clearly devised equal opportunities policies in order to ensure it at a national level. (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008)

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