Is Equal Opportunities Legislation An Unnecessary Fuss When Negotiating Salaries?

Our country has come a long way in promoting the equality of all of its citizens. Although our founding documents have declared that “all men are created equal”, the law has not always protected people as such. In modern times, legislation has been passed to promote equal opportunities for all job applicants in the workforce. Many employers across the nation have complained that such legislation is a violation of their right to hire anybody they choose, and many have questioned whether some Equal Opportunities legislation is constitutional. Those on the other side of the argument claim that discrimination has made it very difficult for minorities to obtain gainful employment and that legislation is needed to protect their rights. Whether you agree with the Equal Opportunities legislation of the past or not, it has certainly made an impact on the way employers handle the salary process.

Many companies proudly promote the fact that they are “Equal Opportunity Employers”, and many people like working for companies that don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, creed, or national origin. Most of the affirmative action legislation was first introduced in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. Since that time, many new laws have been enacted to make sure employers give all applicants a fair shot at landing a position.

But does this ring true for pay guidelines?
There are Right-to-Work states that make it more difficult for persons discriminated against to get a job and negotiate pay, and these states have put the burden upon the person discriminated against to prove that any discrimination is taking place. Many people believe that the laws in Right-to-Work states minimize the power of affirmative action laws, and that Federal Laws should be more forceful when it comes to laws that promote absolute equality for anyone in employment.

The question is: Is this much ado about nothing? There are those who believe that equal opportunities legislation promotes more discrimination than it eliminates. Those opposed to affirmative action laws don’t believe that discrimination is a big problem still in the United States, and that abiding by laws that claim it does will only keep what little discrimination there is alive. The question is who is right and who is wrong? It’s true, in some areas of the country there may be less discrimination and more equality than others, but just because an individual or a community in one area doesn’t practice discrimination when hiring people doesn’t mean it isn’t happening elsewhere.

There are many companies that don’t hire women or minorities, and there are many companies that don’t promote the minorities or women they do hire. The Huffington Post Statistics have shown that forty years after the first equal opportunities laws were passed, white males are still making a lot more than women and minorities.

After forty years, there have been many positive changes in the hiring process, and much of that is due to affirmative action laws. There is still progress to made, and the more laws may be necessary in order to keep the progress going. Obviously with there still being a big discrepancy in how many women and minorities are hired versus white males, and with there still being a salary discrepancy between these groups for the same kind of job, discrimination still exists. It makes no sense for one group to get paid more than another group for the same job – unless there is discrimination involved. Perhaps this is something to consider in the negotiation process.

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