Racial discrimination in employment is illegal under several codes of the United States constitution. Title VII of the Civil Rights Code explicitly states that no employer can discriminate on the basis of race, color, national heritage or gender and has been in place for over forty years.
Disparate treatment is outright racial discrimination in employment (also affecting gender and heritage) that violates a person’s “protected class” such as gender or race. Treating one differently on the basis of their appearance has caused litigations that resulted in hefty fines for corporations.
All stages of employment are protected under Title VII, which was given a boost by the US adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which allows for punitive damages to those who experienced racial discrimination in employment.
Because those of non-Caucasian decent were historically underprivileged in the eyes of the law, in commerce, and public perception, individuals and groups joined forces to eradicate racism from the work place.
Affirmative Action is a key movement in the effort to curb racial discrimination in employment. The idea of Affirmative Action is to extend equal opportunity across all prospective workers and a push for diversity in the US work force. Kennedy is given credit for coining this term in the 1960’s, but it was President Lynden Johnson that said it was not just to promote the idea of equality and democracy, but to realize the results of this endeavor.
But the rise of promoting non-whites in the workplace brought an onslaught of “reverse” racial discrimination in employment. In the 1970’s Allan Bakke sued a medical school for refusal to accept him in favor of “affirmative action” candidates. The court ruled that this indeed projected discrimination on the white Bakke, but upheld the ruling that Affirmative Action was still a legal and useful tool.
Preferential treatment and quotas is the bane of the conservative movement to end such practices. But it is still upheld today, causing many discrepancies in public opinion as well as court cases.
In 1997 Houston voters upheld Affirmative Action when propositioned with a ballot that would eliminate it. And in 1998 both the House and Senate refused to accept amendments that would terminate the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program as well as use of the policy in higher education admissions procedures.
But in 1998, California banned the use of Affirmative Action in University of California institutions. Proposition 209 in 2006 instigated this reform, as it prohibited the use of race or gender based preferences in education and state government.
Racial discrimination in employment is a complex beast that cannot be solved by initiatives and laws alone. The repercussions of implementing such tactics may actually thwart a company’s ability to hire the top talent, as they might be required to hire a lesser employee on the basis of race alone. All of us are equally capable, but we don’t all have equal opportunities when society is so fixated on skin color.