What is Reverse Discrimination?

Alexis W.

Reverse discrimination occurs when a group generally favored or considered the majority is treated less advantageously in favor of a minority group. In other words, reverse discrimination may occur when men — traditionally a majority and favored group — are discriminated against in favor of women. Such discrimination may also occur when Caucasians are treated less favorably than non-Caucasians.

Reverse discrimination is that which occurs to traditionally favored employment groups, such as white males.
Reverse discrimination is that which occurs to traditionally favored employment groups, such as white males.

Within the United States and many other countries, there is a long history of discrimination against certain races or classes of people. In order to right those wrongs and create a more equal society, civil rights legislation has been passed in various forms. In the United States, for example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin and color.

A business that hires only women could be accused of reverse discrimination.
A business that hires only women could be accused of reverse discrimination.

As a result of an increased focus on non-discrimination and on the potential penalties associated with disobeying civil rights rules, in some settings, minority groups have come to be favored over the traditional majority groups that enjoyed preferential treatment. In addition, other rules and laws, such as affirmative action, have been passed in which those groups traditionally discriminated against are given certain preference under the law. Some argue that this type of behavior is reverse discrimination.

For example, if a man and women score exactly the same on a test to become a manager, the woman may be hired over the man simply because of her status as a woman and the fact that there are not as many women in the field as men. Some argue that this is reverse discrimination. Under the law, however, such a decision would be perfectly legal, even if it is discriminatory against the male candidate.

Certain types of reverse discrimination have been deemed unconstitutional, however. For example, in a 1997 case titled Gratz v. Bollinger, Jennifer Gratz applied to the University of Michigan law school. Her application was rejected due to her status as a Caucasian, while less qualified African American candidates were admitted to the school. Under the Michigan system for admission, numerical points values were assigned to students to determine admission, and African American students were awarded a high number of points in this system, resulting in a disproportionate advantage in gaining entrance to the school.

The court ruled that, while affirmative action is perfectly legal and taking race into account is also legal, Michigan's behavior rose to the level of reverse discrimination because the school had "protected" seats for minority candidates. In other words, this ruling held that specific quotas, in which certain spots or jobs are exclusively open to a minority race, were not permitted under the law. While this form of discrimination aimed to right historical wrongs, it was still deemed too discriminatory to pass muster under equal protection rules found in the Constitution.

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Discussion Comments


Two wrongs don't make a right. Just because white people's ancestors (note: not today's white people) historically discriminated against non-white people, it doesn't make it right to discriminate against them (present-day white people).


You can never correct one wrong with another wrong. If the act was wrong, then it it wrong for everybody. Stop doing it.

On top of that usually the people who discriminated are not being discriminated back, but most likely their descendants or totally some other random people.

So let just stop the wrong act, do not build one thing on top of the other. It does not work. Innocent people are being hurt, not very humane.


Does anybody know of any organizations that were created to only help white people? Did you know such an organization is illegal? That is a perfect example of reverse discrimination.


@FernValley, age discrimination cases are another growing problem in reverse discrimination statistics. As the economy slows and more people than ever are looking for a job later in life, it is sometimes difficult to employ either older people who might not be up to some tasks or young people who appear less experienced. While it is true that affirmative action and other policies need to be reevaluated in modern times, the problems of racial, age, and gender discrimination will probably never be fully solved.


Reverse discrimination is a growing problem in both schools and in the workplace. Discrimination in the form of quotas in particular is hurtful, considering that these things are often put in place to promote equality.

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