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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Essay on Affirmative Action Plan

There is a common misconception that the Civil Rights Act gave rise to the concept of affirmative actions.  There is evidence, however that the reverse is true and that it was the concept of affirmative actions that provided the foundation for the enactment of the Civil Rights Act.  Indeed, affirmative actions have a long history in the US, in fact, even longer than the modern civil rights movement (Steven F. Lawson, 2005, p.1). According to Terry H. Anderson, the beginnings of affirmative actions can be traced three decades before John F. Kennedy issued an order in 1961 calling for “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that the employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.”  (Lawson, p.1)  As early as 1934, the foundations for providing equal employment opportunity was already being laid when the Public Works Administration under the leadership of the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes required contractors in cities with huge negro population to employ a fixed percentage of skilled black workers (Lawson p.1) 
Because of its long history, Affirmative Action Programs have been criticized to have outlived its usefulness in view of the substantial progress we have made in the area of equal opportunities (Reginald Stuart, 2008, p.1).  Some say that Affirmative Action Programs have even promoted the discrimination against the whites.  However, Affirmative Action Programs are still essential despite the remarkable improvements we have made in promoting equal employment opportunities and in avoiding discriminatory acts and practices.  They are important because they teach the employees and the employers not only about what should not be done to avoid lawsuits but also because they always remind the employees and employers the principles behind these affirmative actions plans which are love and respect for each other regardless of our differences.  There is therefore no compelling rationale for ending a policy that has done our country so much good (Cose Ellis,2008, p.1).

Affirmative Action Programs are essential in every organization not only to avoid liability.   It is true that there have been a number of cases where the court has imposed liability against an employer for failing to come up with affirmative action programs.  It is also true that some courts have punished employers for failing to promote a harmonious and discrimination-free environment.  In these cases, the employers were held liable because it was found out that they did nothing to prevent discriminatory acts from being committed though they took no part in its commission.  Affirmative Actions Programs also serve to promote a friendly and fair work environment for everyone.  It not only ensures a good working and professional relationship amongst the employees but it also ensures that there is a good relationship between the employees and the employers.

In continuing with the Affirmative Action Plans, the following policies should be continued: “To continue to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified persons by recruiting, hiring, training, promoting and compensating persons in all jobs without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual preference, age, disability or national origin.  To continue to revise and improve all aspects of employment process so as to further the principles of equal employment opportunity and to achieve the objective of maximizing the every human resource available inside and outside the organization.”

This policy encompasses the basic roots of Affirmative Actions Plans which is to give equal opportunity to every person and avoid discrimination within the workplace.  It looks into the existing human resource policies not only in the aspect of recruitment, hiring and selection but also in the aspect of training, promotion and compensation.  In addition, it also ensures that the policy is sustained and continued by means of continuous review and evaluation of existing human resource policies.  This assures that any defect or weakness in the implementation of this program identified and immediately addressed. 

In accordance with the Affirmative Action Plan, the employers are required to have objective and reasonable criteria in their recruitment and hiring of employees.  Questions such as whether a person is married or whether a person is disabled or whether a person is pregnant should be avoided during interviews and should not be included as criteria in the list of qualifications.  Promotions should also be based on seniority in the company, objective performance appraisals, educational attainment and not based on sex or age. Compensation and benefits should also be based on the relevant educational attainment, job description and performance.    

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The Affirmative Action Plan shall be made applicable to all employers regardless whether they are in the public sector or private sector.  Employers have the obligation to ensure that every employee is protected against unwarranted discrimination and harassment against his or her superiors and his or her employers.  They have to ensure that every employee is given the right treatment consistent with existing laws.

The Affirmative Action Plan shall require employers to comply with existing federal and state laws.  One of these laws is Civil Rights Act 1964 which is considered as one of the most important pieces of legislation in the 20th Century.   It was enacted to ensure that every person is given equal opportunity for employment regardless of age, sex, race or national origin.  The employers must also ensure compliance with the Equal Pay Act which requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work done in the same business establishment.  The employers must also comply with the provisions of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 which prohibits employers from discriminating against female workers based on pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical condition.  The employers must likewise comply with Age Discrimination in Employment which protects people who are in the age of 40 from employment discrimination based on age. 

Under the Affirmative Action Plan, the employers are required first and foremost to ensure that these existing laws are observed and incorporated in all human resource aspects.  Secondly, the employers are required create and prepare a policy against discrimination within the workplace.  This policy must be incorporated in the manual and communicated to every employee so that the will know what acts are considered violations of this policy.  In addition, the employers are required to create a system of reporting, investigation, hearing and resolution of all complaints involving harassment and discrimination against employees which all the employees must be made aware.  For this purpose, the employees must be made aware of the following: the person to whom these complaints will be filed, and the procedure for the conduct of investigation and the hearing; and the punishment for violation of the policy. 

Under the Affirmative Action Plan, every employer is mandated to observe these programs.  As a matter of policy, resorting to punishment should be avoided.  Forcing compliance through coercion and threats will not promote the objective of this affirmative action plan.  As much as possible the employers must be made aware of the benefits and advantage of having their own Affirmative Action Programs within the workplace.  The focus of the plan should be on the benefits of having a discrimination-free and harassment-free work environment.  However, should employers manifest a wanton disregard of the affirmative action plans, they must also be made aware that these plans are based on existing federal laws.  Thus, failure to comply with these rules may result in civil or criminal liability not only against the person responsible for committing the act of discrimination but also against the employer who failed to do something to avoid the commission of discrimination.

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