Affirmative Action Legislation in the United States

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Affirmative action legislation in the United States has its basic framework in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates that firms with more than 15 employees are subject to a variety of anti-discrimination policies, more of which were passed in subsequent years. In some cases, the concept of affirmative action was taken to be a voluntary act to attain diversity. For the most part, however, courts have interpreted affirmative action laws as having little teeth under the Constitution. It has been suggested that "racial preferences in federal law or policy are a remedy of last resort" (Dale, 2005) Affirmative action has had a number of results. In terms of positive outcome, affirmative action policies have helped to shape the climate of discussion about issues of equity in pay and opportunity. This has helped to share the way that companies have approach the issue. Opportunities for women and minorities have increased, especially at lower levels of management. There are seemingly still barriers to advancement into senior management ranks for many groups. It can be said that one outcome is that more of the workforce has been engaged to its full potential, by having laws that take an active stand against discrimination. This has significant positive effects for the economy as a whole, and can serve to drive economic growth. Moreover, there is a greater portion of society that is less disenfranchised. Single mothers have more opportunities to provide for their families
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