Module 8 – Employment Equity and Affirmative Action.docx

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14 Apr 2012
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Module 8 Employment Equity and Affirmative Action
Employment Equity vs. Affirmative Action
When you hear those words do you get a good feeling?
What do you think of?
Employment Equity Affirmative Action (Employment Equity term used in
Canada, Affirmative Equity term used in US)
Target Groups
o In Canada, there are four groups targeted for employment equity benefits:
Aboriginals
Disabled
Visible minorities
Women
o In the US, these groups are divided differently
Visible minorities
Native Americans
Special emphasis on African Americans
Women
Disabled
There are different Kinds of Employment Equity or Affirmative Action Policies
Even though most example/.debates about these come up with jobs it‟s more than
just that, it is also:
o Hiring
o Promotions
o Entrance into Educational Programs
Law school
Medical school
General BA
o Professional Qualifications
Means for getting professional qualifications
Canadian and US Legal Context
The differences
o Canadian Legal Context
Charter of Rights and Freedom Section 15 (split in to 2 parts)
Equality of law is not in Section 15
Section 15 has two parts: Anti-discrimination and exemptions
o US Legal context
Bill of Rights
Guaranteed equality under the law
o Section 15: It is a violation of an individual‟s rights to discriminate against them
on the grounds of:
Gender, Age, Marital Status, race, Religion
o 15-2: Any program of affirmative action or employment equity does not count as
a violation of 15-1
Some criticize employment equity as reverse discrimination
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Employment Equity has a Statutory basis as well
o Constitution is comprised of the rules for making the rules basic law of the land
and the rules for making rules
o Statutes are the rules
Who has authority over what
o Processual concern with equality built in as one of our foundation values
What does quality mean?
o Non-discrimination the right not to be discriminated against
o Right to equal benefit under the law
Employment Equity Act of 1986 (Statutory basis)
o What does it apply to?
Canadian scope of mandatory affirmative action
Federal department civil servants
Companies bidding on federal contracts (worth voer .25 million $)
Those companies who
o Have more than 100 employees
o Line of work falls under federal jurisdiction as laid out in
the constitution
e.g banking the big banks are all required to have
employment equity program
Studies show that this amounts to 10% of the Canadian workforce
by number of workers
Equity Act does not apply to everything in the Canadian economy
Inflated notions of where the law requires affirmative action
Controversies attached to this idea commonly lead people to think
that the scope of affirmative action is larger than it actually is
Voluntary employment equity programs
o Provincial government
o Municipal government
o Regional government
o MUSH Sector (Municipality, uni, school, hospitals)
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o Private sector
Generally business want to minimize their participation in any
government action because it‟s costly
Bob Rae and the NDP (1993)
o Passed a provincial employment equity act which was
scheduled to come into effect in 1996
o 995 election ushered in the PC government which repealed
the act before it was ever implemented
o Not the same mandatory requirements on the provincial
level as there are at the federal level
Statutory basis in the U.S. Civil Rights Act 1964
o Martin Luther King
o Lyndon Johnson
o Subset of the act Equal Opportunity Provisions
o Affirmative action stronger and more robust in U.S. than in Canada
o More court based in US
Main sites of disputes and activity
Most aggressive defenders of affirmative action rights
Canada has a softer/weaker process
o What happens when one feels violated?
e.g. bank employees visible minority who does not believe bank has a
large enough representation of minorities. They could use:
Internal appeal
More aggressive action file complaint with the Federal human
Rights Commission
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