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Affirmative Action

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The American government takes affirmative action very seriously as demonstrated in the methods it has implemented to combat discrimination in the workplace. Although it can be argued when affirmative action actually emerged, the government’s efforts to protect the rights of all American citizens with regard to employment began in 1941. President Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) when A. Phillip Randolph, president and founder of one of the most powerful black labor unions, threatened to organize a mass march on Washington D.C. if Roosevelt did not take action on behalf of black workers. It was the responsibility of the FEPC to increase the number of black citizens employed by defense contractors. The commission continued its efforts throughout World War II and then was eliminated.
President Truman signed Executive Order 9980 in 1948. This order created the Fair Employment Board within the Civil Service Commission. It was the purpose of this commission to increase the employment of minorities within the federal government. Although the board was very idealistic, there was also a great deal of politics involved. The board was terminated soon after President Eisenhower took office.
While holding office as vice president in 1961, Lyndon B. Johnson expressed a great deal of interest in the economic flourish of black Americans. He asked a black attorney from Detroit, Hobart Taylor Jr., to assist him in drafting an executive order to present to President Kennedy for his signature. Executive Order 10925 “required federal contractors to take “affirmative action” to hire more minority employees” (Darien A. McWhirter, pg.31). This order created the Presidential Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity. While Executive Order 10925 was a step in the right direction, it had limitations. President Kennedy knew that congressional action would increase civil rights efforts. Kennedy passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963. This act demanded equal pay for equal work, prohibiting women from being paid less than men for the same work. In addition to the Equal Pay Act, “he also proposed sweeping civil rights legislation, which southerners managed to bottle up in committee”(Melvin I. Urofsky, pg.17). Before he could continue his efforts for civil rights, Kennedy was assassinated. In memorial, Lyndon Johnson urged passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964 ...

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... legal action in this case. In Lorance v. AT&T, the issue was that a union contract was changed to reduce the seniority f a group of women employed by AT&T. Although they had a legitimate argument, the Supreme Court rued against them claiming that they waited too long to file their case. In the fifth and final court case, Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, A black woman by the name of Brenda Patterson filed charges of racial harassment against her employer. The decision was to be made if she could sue under the civil rights act passed after the civil war and receive more damages, or would she be required to settle for the provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court ruled that she was stuck with the 1964 Act. When President Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the decisions in all but one of these cases were either modified or overturned. The act gave more protection to the rights of victims of employment discrimination.
Although the fight for equality in everyday society sometimes seems like a relentless battle, it is apparent that the government is striving toward equality in the workplace by demanding employers to conform to the laws that it has established.
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