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What is affirmative action?

You may often hear a term repeated again and again when dealing with cases of alleged racial discrimination in Kansas City: "affirmative action." This phrase is likely not new to you due to the fact that it is often referenced when dealing with other issues (such as admission policies for institutes of higher learning). Yet if you are like most, you may not have a strong understanding of what it actually means, and how it may apply in the business world. 

Affirmative action does not refer to single policy or law, but rather a certain type of regulations created specifically to offer increased opportunities to demographic groups that have been historically excluded in America. Those organizations that enact affirmative action policies are then required to adhere to them to when recruiting and hiring employees into their workforce. These policies may detail the number of minority candidates an organization is required to consider when filling an open position, or the percentage of staff that must be comprised of certain demographic group. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (and Section 60-2 of the Code of Federal Regulations), non-construction contractors and subcontractors that have 50 or more employees on staff must have written affirmative action policies if they have any of the following:

  • A government contract greater than $50,000
  • Government bills of lading which can reasonably be expected to total more than $50,000 over a 12-month period
  • A contract to serve as a depository of government funds
  • A contract to serve as a financial institution that issues and pays on U.S. savings bonds and notes

You should know that outside of these federal regulations, no local affirmative action laws currently exist in Missouri. Therefore, not all employers are required to have such policies in place. 

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