Sample HRM Essay


Chapter 3 – Are Affirmative Action Plan Goals Evidence of Discrimination?

Xerox Corporation’s (Xerox) Balanced Workforce Initiative (BWF) involved the publication of specific affirmative action goals for each job and each salary grade level within the company. This plan was started in the 1990s in an effort to ensure proportional representation of all racial and gender groups throughout the company. The BWFs were based on government labor force data and established annually. Part of the annual performance evaluation for managers was how well they met the desired racial and gender compositions for their locations. In one instance, reports compiled for the Houston office indicated that black employees were overrepresented and white employees were underrepresented. To correct this imbalance, over a period of five years, steps were taken to reduce the percentage of black employees in the office.

Six black employees filed suit against Xerox, stating that they were denied promotion opportunities even though they were qualified for the jobs into which they wanted to be promoted. They also indicated that they felt the BWF adversely affected their opportunity for advancement.

Answer the following questions by applying the concepts learned in Chapter 3. Please post the case study as one MS Word document. Note: See the template provided for the case study paper. Also, conduct literature reviews on the subject of discussion and use to support your case study answers:

1. Based on the evidence presented, has discrimination occurred? If so, which type of discrimination (i.e., disparate treatment, disparate impact, both)? If you are not sure, what questions would you want to have answered to make your determination?

2. Which party (plaintiffs or defendant) has the burden of proof in this case? What defense could Xerox offer if the plaintiffs make a case of discrimination? Discuss how successful you believe the company will be at defending its actions.

3. Could Xerox have achieved the same goals in a less discriminatory manner? If so, how? If not, why not?


Are Affirmative Action Plan Goals Evidence of Discrimination

Disparate treatment means unequal treatment toward someone or a group of people because of a protected characteristic such as race. In contrast, in disparate impact, the employer executes a neutral law to treat everyone equally but ends up discriminating against a particular group. In this case, the company does not intend to discriminate against black people or go against government policy. Rather it is engaging in a continuous attempt to create an equal treatment and maintain balance (Lang, 2011; Jones & Beckwith, 1997). With the white people noticing discrimination in numbers, the company has been tipping the balance to restore equality.  


As the defendant, the Xerox Company has the burden of proof in this case. Initially, they defend themselves on the basis of government policy and equality. However, a new twist arises from the black plaintiff’s decision to go ahead to provide records of discrimination during promotions. According to their evidence, white employees are being given priority in relation to promotions at the expense of the black people. The defendants have to prove that their move was not discriminatory against the black workforce regardless of the new evidence presented.

Xerox aims to restore the balance between black and white employees. However,  it appears that the government policy offers more protection to black people following the severe discrimination they have traditionally endured in the labor force. Xerox is strongly concerned with diversity and creating equality within the organization across the country. This leads the company to favor the white people during promotions as a way of creating a suitable working condition for the white people who now feel oppressed. Though discriminatory on the black people, this approach will provide a long-term balance between the two parties.


Jones,T. & Beckwith, F. (1997). Affirmative Action: Social Justice or Reverse Discrimination. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Lang, K. (2011). Poverty and Discrimination. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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