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United Steelworkers v. Weber - 443 U.S. 193, 99 S. Ct. 2721 (1979)

Rule:

An area of discretion is left by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the private sector to voluntarily adopt affirmative action plans designed to eliminate conspicuous racial imbalance in traditionally segregated job categories.

Facts:

Appellant employer and the union collectively bargained for an affirmative action plan that reserved for black employees 50% of the openings in a training program until the percentage of black craftworkers in the plant was commensurate with the percentage of blacks in the local labor force. Appellee, a white employee, challenged the legality of the plan under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq. Appellant filed an application for a writ of certiorari to review the appellate court's affirmance of the district court's judgment that a collectively bargained affirmative action plan violated the rights of appellee under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the appellate court's affirmance of the district court's judgment.

Issue:

Did appellant employer's voluntary affirmative action plan, granting preference to black employees over more senior white employees in admission to in-plant craft training programs, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2(a), (d)? 

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

Title VII's prohibition against racial discrimination did not condemn all private, voluntary, race-conscious affirmative action plans. Appellant employer’s plan did not violate Title VII because no state action was involved, the purposes of the plan mirrored Title VII's, and the plan did not unnecessarily trammel the interests of the white employees. The plan did not require the discharge of white workers and their replacement with new black hirees. Nor did it create an absolute bar to the advancement of white employees. Moreover, the plan was a temporary measure.

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