Overview: While there has been a good deal of debate over the future of affirmative action, some employers must still have a written AAP. These include:
It is important to note that not all affirmative action requirements involve minorities and women. Under federal regulations, employers with $10,000 in government contracts must take affirmative action for individuals with disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Meanwhile, employers with such contracts of $25,000 or more must take affirmative action on behalf of veterans who served during the Vietnam Era.
An AAP should document the employer's equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy; explain why the plan is needed; avoid strict numerical quotas; and show how the plan will solve the problem of underutilization of protected groups without injuring the rights of majority employees. The employer also should designate a company officer who is responsible for reviewing, implementing and auditing the AAP.
The federal government oversees affirmative action planning through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which is a branch of the US Department of Labor. The OFCCP has the authority to provide remedies for affirmative action violations, including substantial cash settlements plus placing a ban on the receipt of federal funds.
Trends: A few states have prohibited the consideration of race in government hiring in recent years, but some of these bans are being challenged in the courts. The Supreme Court is considering a case, Fisher v. Texas, that could scale back the use of affirmative action plans by public colleges and universities.
Author: David B. Weisenfeld, JD, Legal Editor
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HR guidance on legal requirements for affirmative action hiring plans.