Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Origins of the Term "Affirmative Action"

For a term as loaded with political meaning as “affirmative action,” it might come as a surprise to learn that its origins on the political landscape still remain somewhat of a mystery. Merriam-Webster places its first known use in 1965, but the historical record shows it being used years before.

Though education is largely the focus of today’s affirmative action debate, the origin of the term is rooted with legalese in employment law, explains Shirley J. Wilcher, the executive director for the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity. To take an "affirmative action" was to literally act affirmatively—not allowing events to run their course but rather having the government (or employers) take an active role in treating employees fairly.

Read the full Smithsonian story here

Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, handing supporters of affirmative action a major victory.
The vote was 4-3. Only seven justices participated in the decision, as Justice Elena Kagan had recused herself for prior work on the case as United States solicitor general and the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat remains vacant.
Read the full New York Times story here.

View the text of the Supreme Court decision here

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How Harvard Set the Model for Affirmative Action in College Admissions

It was nearly 40 years ago when a fractured U.S. Supreme Court was searching for an acceptable and lawful way to take race and ethnicity into account in college admissions. The court majority viewed as unconstitutional a system that would set aside a specific number of seats for one racial group or another. But justices also wanted to enable colleges to take steps they might deem necessary to attain a racially diverse student body.

How to do that? Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. turned to the nation’s oldest college for answers.

Powell, writing the principal opinion in the 1978 landmark case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, cited the “Harvard College program” as an exemplar of race-conscious admissions because it did not use explicit numerical quotas to achieve diversity.

Read the full Washington Post story here

Jennie-O Turkey Store to Pay $492K in Back Wages to 339 Female Applicants After U.S. Labor Department Investigation Found Hiring Discrimination

WILLMAR, Minn. – Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. has agreed to hire 53 women and pay $491,861 in back wages to 339 female job applicants denied entry-level jobs at its Willmar turkey-processing facility. The company’s action resolves a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit alleging the global turkey products producer discriminated in its hiring practices.

Read more here

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

OFCCP Updates Sex Discrimination Rule

On June 14, 2016, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register that sets forth the requirements that covered contractors must meet under the provisions of Executive Order 11246 prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. This Final Rule updates sex discrimination guidelines from 1970 with new regulations that align with current law and address the realities of today’s workplaces. The Final Rule deals with a variety of sex–based barriers to equal employment and fair pay, including compensation discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, failure to provide workplace accommodations for pregnant workers, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.

The Final Rule becomes effective on August 15, 2016.

Read more here

EEOC Sues Automation Personnel Services, Inc. For Sex Discrimination

Staffing Agency Refused to Hire Qualified Applicant Because of Her Gender, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Automation Personnel Services, Inc., a Pelham, Ala.-based staffing agency, violated federal law by failing to consider or hire a qualified woman for placement with a fiberglass grating product manufacturer because of her sex, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on Friday.
Read more here