Reverse Discrimination

Where affirmative actions policies have been implemented, the term "reverse" or "positive" discrimination is often used. In reverse discrimination, race, gender, age and national origin become permissible factors in hiring decisions, school admissions and other acts in order to create a fair playing field. Typically, affirmative action policies in the workplace may require the hiring or promotion of a minority candidate or a woman where white males or other dominant groups may have filled the job in the past. Courts have not permitted claims of reverse discrimination by white males and younger workers (complaining of ADEA protections that unfairly protect older workers).

Sidebar: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that employers may provide benefits to a select category of older workers that are not offered to younger employees over 40 without violating the ADEA. The younger employees were in the protected age class and alleged that the refusal to offer like benefits was "reverse discrimination." The Court disagreed and allowed reverse discrimination in this situation.

TIP: Permissible reverse discrimination (affirmative action) still requires that the person promoted, for example, must possess the necessary education and qualifications for the position.

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