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Raymond Buxton, II, Commissioner

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is an effort to develop a systematic approach to eliminate the current and lingering effects of prior discrimination. It is a race and sex conscious effort to achieve equal employment opportunity for all race/sex groups in a workforce. Affirmative Action has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court as a permissible method to reach the goal of fair employment and is not a quota system. Affirmative Action is voluntary and is not required by any law. What is required is that each state agency, college or university submit for approval a written Affirmative Action Plan to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC).

An Affirmative Action Plan sets forth employment goals for minorities and women whose representation in the workforce is less than would be reasonably expected by availability estimates of the qualified labor pool. The plan also names the positive affirmative steps the employer will take to recruit and to employ qualified minorities and women. If followed, the Affirmative Action Plan becomes the guide for a program that should result in fair employment for all race/sex groups, including white males.

The goals component of the plan is not designed to be, nor should be interpreted to be, permitting unlawful quotas with respect to persons of any race or sex. Rather, the goals are used to target and measure the effectiveness of affirmative action efforts to eliminate and prevent discrimination.

An Affirmative Action Plan approved by SCHAC means only that the plan meets our standards for an acceptable planning document. If the plan is not followed, the state employer has merely met its paper compliance obligations under the State Human Affairs Law but has failed to voluntarily implement a program.

The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission cannot make an agency follow its affirmative action plan. SCHAC can monitor recruitment, hiring and promotion practices in state agencies but cannot tell state agencies whom to hire or promote. SCHAC can also train employers to recruit, hire and promote without discriminating but cannot guarantee that employers will recruit, hire and promote without discriminating.

An Affirmative Action Plan and program will not immunize an agency against charges of discrimination. Thus, an agency may have the very best written Affirmative Action Plan but still be susceptible to charges of discrimination.