United States, if employees remain dissatisfied, they have the option of taking the complaint to the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC) or a similar state government agency charged with responsibility for implementing EEO law. Ultimately, these disputes may find their way into the court system.
Another aspect of EEO programs is affirmative action. This term refers to positive recruitment, hiring, promotion, and training programs to further the employment of minorities and women, as well as the use of numerical goals and timetables that actually set targets for the employment of women and minorities (see goals and quotas). Goals and timetables, because they are established on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender, have proved to be a controversial approach to affirmative action. In principle, the establishment of goals and timetables helps the organization to focus recruitment and other efforts to enhance employment prospects for targeted groups.
Some people argue that goals and timetables, although they are frequently an important part of organizational EEO efforts, actually are inconsistent with the concept of equal employment opportunity because they result in preferential treatment for minorities and women. Others counter that such preferences are necessary to effectively overcome the effects of past and current discrimination against various racial and ethnic groups and women.
J. EDWARD KELLOUGH
Kellough, J. Edward, 1989. Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Numerical Goals and Timetables: An Impact Assessment. New York: Praeger.
Livingston, John C., 1979. Fair Game? Inequality and Affirmative Action. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.
Ratner, Ronnie Steinberg, 1980. Equal Employment Policy for Women: Strategies for Implementation in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Rosenbloom, David H., 1977. Federal Equal Employment Opportunity: Politics and Public Personnel Administration. New York: Praeger.
EQUAL PROTECTION. A legal doctrine that prohibits the government from discriminating against certain persons or groups. The source of the doctrine is the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, which became effective in 1868, after the Civil War. (The Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery, was ratified in 1865; the Fifteenth Amendment, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting, was ratified in 1870).
The purpose of the Equal Protection Clause was to prohibit the states from enacting laws that discriminated against blacks, who had just been freed from slavery. The Equal Protection Clause reads: "No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." No similar language prohibiting discrimination by the federal government appears in the Bill of Rights the first 10 amendments to the Constitution-but the an tidiscrimination concept has been applied to the United States by Supreme Court case law interpreting the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment ( Bolling v. Sharpe [ 1954]), which held that due process prevented the federal government from segregating public schools in the District of Columbia. In general, whatever the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from doing, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits the United States from doing. State constitutions may contain the same, or similar, language prohibiting discriminatory laws.
Equal protection requires that a state treat similarly situated persons similarly ( Tussman and tenBroek [ 1949]). Discriminatory laws usually fall into one of the two categories: They are either overinclusive, that is, they regulate a problem more broadly than necessary, or they are under inclusive, that is, they do not regulate far enough ( Tussman and tenBroek [ 1949]). But because no laws can ever reach perfection, the courts have been willing to tolerate a great deal of discriminatory laws. In fact, very few discriminatory laws will he held to be a denial of equal protection.
Laws that are likely to be struck down are those that discriminate against certain groups or certain protected activities. Immediately after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court said that equal protection was meant to prohibit only those laws that discriminated against blacks on account of their race or class, and that "a strong case would be necessary for its application to any other" race or class ( Slaughter-House Cases [ 1873]). But as time went on, the Court extended the clause's protection to other races, as well as to such classifications as religion, national origin, alien status, illegitimacy, and gender. These classifications had in common one or more of the following characteristics: The traits were immutable, that is, a person cannot change his or her race; they often had nothing to do with one's ability; there was often past discrimination against members of these groups; and it was not the fault of the individual that he or she was a member of the group. Further, laws that adversely affect certain interests-such as the right to travel, the right to vote, or the rights of persons accused of crime also are likely to be looked at closely by the Court.
The first type of legislation struck down as a violation of equal protection was that which was directed against blacks, for example, a law prohibiting blacks from serving on juries ( Strauder v. West Virginia [ 1880]). Laws that merely segregated the races were upheld as consistent with equal protection since, said the Court, they treated the races equally. For example, in Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, the Court upheld a Louisiana law that required railroads to