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Is Affirmative Action a Type of Discrimination?

As a working American, you are probably aware of the concept of affirmative action. The idea first appeared in the 1960s, when President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, which ordered that employers in the United States not discriminate against job applicants and employees based on their race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation, and that employers take steps to ensure that diverse applicants are employed and that diverse employees are treated fairly. Later, these requirements were amended to include sex as one of the characteristics upon which employers could not discriminate.

The language in the initial affirmative action orders is fairly simple. Over the following decades, some companies made efforts to increase the number of women and racial minorities working within them through targeted training programs and outreach. Some critics of affirmative action feel that these practices are more harmful to the companies than they are helpful because by targeting certain groups, companies are seeking to simply “fill quotas” rather than seek the best candidates for their positions. Sometimes, this is referred to as “reverse discrimination.” But is affirmative action really discrimination and could an individual impacted by a company’s affirmative action policy file a successful discrimination claim? Potentially. If you feel you have been a victim of affirmative action or any type of discrimination, speak with an experienced employment attorney about your case.

“Reverse Discrimination”

There have been cases of individuals from traditionally privileged groups, white Americans and even moreso, white males, filing successful discrimination claims by alleging reverse discrimination. In these cases, the claimants demonstrated how their employers treated them unfairly because of their race and gender, causing them to suffer career setbacks. For example, in Schafer v. Board of Public Education, a male teacher claimed that he should be allowed to take one year of paternity leave to care for his newborn child because female teachers were entitled to one year of maternity leave.

The term “reverse discrimination” refers to discrimination against a traditionally privileged group. Discrimination cases citing this type of discrimination are rare, but they do exist and can be successful if the claimant demonstrates that he or she suffered financially as a result of discrimination. It is important to note that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not note any specific race, sex, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or other trait in its language that prohibits workplace discrimination. In this statute, all discrimination is viewed equally.

Work with a La Crosse Employment Lawyer

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination, no matter what your race, sex, religion, national origin, or other status covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and applicable state laws, talk with an experienced employment attorney about the possibility of filing a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Contact our team of experienced La Crosse employment lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.

Published June 20, 2016
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