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Civil Rights in Today’s World, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 476

Essay

Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor at Stanford University, argues that Civil Rights have improved the American society by outlawing racial discrimination but it might have been over-applied to circumstances different from racial discrimination (Ford). This may be why roughly half of the cases based on the Civil Rights Act are rejected by the court.

Ford believes that a better response to improve other forms of civil rights is to create more legislation to address specific issues faced by the society. Laws are effective because they force us to improve our practices and prevent any potential of discrimination in the first place.

Punitive solutions such as lawsuits do little to change the overall social justice in the society and are as likely to fail as they are to succeed as the failure of sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart demonstrates. The lawsuit failed because even though statistics may provide a pattern, they do not prove individual instances of illegal conduct.

Ford believes that active responses to social injustice in the society are more effective than reactive responses and he mentions comprehensive occupational safety and health regulations as an example. These compulsory workplace laws have reduced workplace accidents because they require employers to take active steps to create a safe workplace. Thus, the best solution to deal with issues such as glass ceiling and implicit discrimination in hiring is to change workplace practices through legislation because implicit discrimination is very difficult to prove.

Ford makes sense because while laws can outlaw explicit discrimination, they cannot effectively address implicit discrimination which may be responsible for inequality at most workplaces in America and in other spheres of life. When laws provide clear guidelines, the instances of implicit discrimination could be reduced because the employer could be held responsible for not following explicit requirements properly.

Even if some civil lawsuits succeed, they would primarily compensate the victim instead of significantly preventing the future instances of such violations. And there is also a potential of moral hazard where the lawsuits would be simply filed to collect hefty payments and over time, may further alienate the judges instead of making them sympathetic to the social cause under consideration.

It’s is very difficult if not impossible for Civil Rights Act to address all potential situations of discrimination. Even if the Act is expanded, it will only become further complex. Individual laws can be effectively designed to narrowly focus on specific social issues.

The biggest challenge is to come up with ways to prevent implicit discrimination rather than explicit discrimination. Since implicit discrimination is very difficult to prove, thus, the best strategy is to create guidelines for business practices that will reduce the potential of implicit discrimination. Clear guidelines will also reduce confusion for businesses as well as allow the courts to apply more consistent criteria to discrimination lawsuits.

Reference

Ford, Richard Thompson. Moving Beyond Civil Rights. 27 October 2011. 7 February 2012 <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/opinion/moving-beyond-civil-rights.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>.

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