Discrimination Lawsuits ‘Explode’ … and a Tool for Making Affirmative Action Plans Easier

After years of stagnation, antidiscrimination efforts are coming alive. Plus a tool for making Affirmative Action Plans more easily.

Yesterday’s Daily Advisor explored the gaps that still remain to be filled in the American workplace before discrimination can be eliminated.

Despite 40 years of legislation and litigation, recent studies show women are still not making as much as men for the same jobs; large differences between what’s paid to workers with disabilities and those similarly productive but without; and higher wages paid to workers of color if their skin is closer to light than dark. They also show that, while advances in all these areas were strong right up until the early 1990s, the situation has been stagnant since.

There are signs, though, that all this may be changing. In what it terms a “litigation explosion,” the Arizona Daily Star reports a massive upsurge in discrimination lawsuits.

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Some 95,915 such suits were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2005, a 268 percent increase over 1991, with a rate of rise nine times faster than any other kind of federal civil suit. Though most suits do fail, employers still paid more than $101 million in judgments and $271 million in settlements in discrimination cases that year. This did not include the legal and other costs incurred in a lawsuit, win or lose.

There are also stirrings on the governmental front. The Bush administration recently announced a new effort by EEOC to fight discrimination called “E-RACE” (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment), and though it’s early in the 106th Congress, it’s been Democratic majorities that have passed the most aggressive civil rights legislation.

One of the tools they created was the Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) requirement of the Civil Rights Act. This compels all federal contractors with 50 or more employees or $50,000 or more in federal contracts, and their subcontractors, to complete an AAP to ensure that their workforce mirrors the ethnic and gender makeup of the applicant pool from which they hire. The plan is subject to audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which can suspend or cancel contracts until a plan that meets all guidelines is in place.

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Anyone who’s done an AAP knows that filling out your annual IRS Form 1040 is a walk in the park by comparison. The company’s Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator (often the HR person) needs to access reams of census data to determine job market characteristics, conduct internal surveys, do calculations and assure that myriad policies and procedures are in place. No wonder so many make their best guess and then hope no one will review what they’ve done.

‘The Most Usable Set of AAP Instructions …’

If you face these tasks, you might want to look at a recent BLR publication, How to Write an Affirmative Action Plan. It’s very likely the most usable set of instructions you’ll ever find for creating an AAP … or making sure the one you have is up to snuff.

That usability comes from writing in plain English, and formatting the book to fit the way you actually work. One example of that practical formatting: The editors have included a complete, filled-out sample AAP as a series of two-page spreads. One page is from the plan. The facing page is a commentary on the plan page.

That makes it especially easy to understand what each part of the plan is looking for, and how to fill it in correctly. This 96-page sample plan section, much of it prewritten material that’s ready to copy, modify and use, makes up the heart of the book. There are also:

-Complete instructions and sample charts on how to do the required factor analysis
-Instructions on how to do an AA self-audit, and how to prepare for an OFCCP audit
-Summaries of federal and state discrimination and equal pay laws, as well as the full text of key federal regulations
-Prewritten sample letters, policies, and postings for your applicants, employees and subcontractors, each one easily modified to include your specifics

If you have Affirmative Action Plan needs … either to write one, or check the one you’ve got, this just might be the resource you need.

Got the Affirmative Action Plan Blues?
Get the reference that shows you how to do it easier, and can even prewrite much of it for you … BLR’s How to Write an Affirmative Action Plan. Try it at no risk for 30 days! Read more.

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