The U.S. government first required affirmative action in 1965 as a way to remedy past discrimination against minorities, women, and others protected by law against discrimination. Affirmative action means that a company must take steps to increase the participation of protected groups in its workforce.
Sometimes a company voluntarily develops an affirmative action plan (AAP) as a blueprint for hiring employees from protected groups.
Some companies that are required by law to establish written AAPs include those that fit into at least one of the following categories:
- A nonconstruction employer with at least 50 employees and U.S. government contracts or subcontracts worth at least $50,000. If you have at least 50 employees and several small government contracts that add up to $50,000, you’re covered. If you’re a branch office of a bigger company with the required number of employees and contracts, you’re covered even though your office doesn’t handle the contracts or have 50 employees. (Note: construction employers have separate affirmative action obligations set by the federal government. Check with employment counsel for more information.)
- A depository of any amount of government funds.
- An issuing and paying agent of U.S. government bonds.
- An employer required by a judge to create a written AAP as part of a court judgment against it.
- An employer that has agreed, with court approval, to implement a written AAP as part of a consent decree to settle a discrimination lawsuit.