United Steelworkers of America v. Weber: An Exercise in Understandable Indecision
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Washington Law Review, Vol. 56, p. 51, 1980
In 1974, the United Steelworkers of America and Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation entered into a collective-bargaining agreement which provided for a new on-the-job training program designed solely to correct the virtually total absence of blacks in Kaiser's craft workforce. Fifty percent of the trainees were to be black. A white production worker who failed to obtain a position in the program, instituted a class action suit alleging that the affirmative action plan discriminated against him and his white colleagues in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC v. Weber, the United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action plan in a five-to-two majority. The majority conceded that, under some circumstances, discrimination against whites may be outlawed by Title VII, but it did not follow that affirmative action plans fell under that prohibition. This article examines the issue of voluntary affirmative action and analyzes the Court’s majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions in Weber, looking at the language and purposes of Title VII, the relevant case law, and legislative history. This article also discusses the meaning and desirability of the apparent limitations on affirmative action in Weber, and what lower courts have done with Weber's holding and limits.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: affirmative action, Title VII, discrimination
Date posted: July 9, 2009
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