and Its Implementation at USC
The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status.
Section 1-13-110 of the South Carolina Code of Laws , as amended, requires that:
"Each state agency shall develop an Affirmative Action Plan to ensure equitable employment for members of minorities (race and sex) and shall present such plans to the S.C. Human Affairs Commission. On or before February 1, of each year the Human Affairs Commission shall submit a report to the S.C. General Assembly concerning the status of affirmative action plans of all state agencies. If any Affirmative Action Plans have been disapproved, the report shall contain the reasons for such disapproval. If the General Assembly takes no action within sixty (60) days on those plans which have been disapproved, the action of the Human Affairs Commission shall be final."
The University of South Carolina has consistently complied with the mandate of the General Assembly and has an approved Affirmative Action Plan and Program.
The University of South Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer and we are proud of what we have accomplished in the area of affirmative action in employment and each fiscal year we establish realistic goals with the State Human Affairs Commission as it relates to the elimination of underutilization of minorities and women within our workforce.
What Is Affirmative Action In Employment?
Affirmative action in employment is race and sex conscious efforts to increase the employment of minorities and women in both the public and private sectors and is based on merit. Affirmative action is the method by which an employer achieves fair employment of all race/sex groups in the workforce. Affirmative action has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as a permissible method to reach the goal of fair employment.
Affirmative action is not a quota system! Affirmative action ensures equal opportunity in employment and is a voluntary process.
In South Carolina what is required by law is that each state agency, college, or university submit for approval a written affirmative action plan to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. The Human Affairs Commission is charged with the responsibility of evaluating affirmative action plans and reporting the results of their evaluation to the General Assembly.
In the private sector employers that have federal contracts are required to develop an affirmative action plan, which are generally filed with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Specifically, employers with 50 or more employees and contracts of at least $50,000 are required to maintain written affirmative action plans which may be audited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
At the University of South Carolina we have federal contracts in excess of $50,000.00 and accordingly we are also required by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to maintain an affirmative action plan to address areas in which we have identified an underutilization of minorities and women in our workplace. In essence, the University of South Carolina as an affirmative action employer must comply with both a state and federal mandate to ensure equal employment opportunity and affirmative action in employment.
In summary, an affirmative action plan sets forth employment goals for minorities and women whose representation in the workforce is less than should be expected given their availability in the qualified labor pool. The plan also names the positive (affirmative) steps the employer will take to find and hopefully employ qualified minorities and women. If followed, an affirmative action plan becomes the guide for an ongoing program which should result in fair employment and representation for all race/sex groups, including white males.
An affirmative action plan approved by the S.C. Human Affairs Commission or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs means only that the plan meets the S.C. Human Affairs Commission's and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' standards for an acceptable planning document. If the plan is not followed, the employer has merely met its paper compliance obligations under the law but has failed to voluntarily implement a program.
Neither the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs nor the S.C. Human Affairs Commission can make an agency follow its affirmative action plan. The S.C. Human Affairs Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs can monitor recruitment, hiring and promotion practices, but cannot tell employers whom to hire or promote. The S.C. Human Affairs Commission and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs also can train employers how to recruit, hire, and promote without discrimination but cannot guarantee that employers will recruit, hire, and promote without discriminating.
An affirmative action plan and program will not immunize an employer against charges of discrimination. Thus, an employer may have the very best written affirmative action plan and program, but still be susceptible to individual charges of discrimination.
Finally, remember affirmative action is a voluntary process, whereas Equal Employment Opportunity is the law.
If you have a question concerning affirmative action in employment at the University of South Carolina, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at (803) 777-3854.