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Preferential Treatment

The term preferential treatment refers to forms of recruitment, appointment, hiring, and promotion that give preference to members of groups previously or presently affected by discrimination. Preferential treatment is sometimes called “affirmative action.” But whether these terms are synonymous depends on the narrowness or broadness of the definitions used.

Forms of discrimination that occasion policies of preferential treatment need not be intentional or rooted in racist or sexist attitudes. Discrimination is sometimes unintentional and connected to practices that have discriminatory effects. Hiring by personal friendships and word of mouth are common instances, as are some seniority systems. Advertising and interviewing only in certain geographical regions or at certain universities or locations in communities may have the effect of excluding minorities from consideration for jobs, and in ...

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