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Template:Discrimination sidebar Reverse discrimination, also known as positive[1] discrimination, is a controversial specific form of discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group, or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group. Groups may be defined in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or other factors. This discrimination may seek to redress social inequalities where minority groups have been denied access to the same privileges of the majority group. In such cases it is intended to remove discrimination that minority groups may already face. "Reverse discrimination" may also be used to highlight the discrimination inherent in affirmative action programs.

United States

In the United States of America, the term "reverse discrimination" has been used in past discussions of racial quotas or gender quotas for collegiate admission to government-run educational institutions. Such policies were held to be unconstitutional in the United States, while non-quota based methods, which may include race as a factor, including some affirmative action programs (race as a factor, ethnic minorities, and physical, mental, or learning disabilities) can be legal.

Nevertheless, some city governments still utilize racial quotas when awarding government contracts. The city of Chicago has mandated that all government construction contracts must award 25% of their value to minority owned businesses.[2]

The first United States Supreme Court case to challenge reverse discrimination is Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 [551 U.S. 701 (2007)], Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."[3]

In 2009, a group of firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut filed suit against the city for reverse discrimination after promotion test results were thrown out because no African-American firefighters passed the test. Sixteen Caucasian and three Hispanic firefighters passed the test. The Roberts Court in Ricci v. DeStefano found that disregarding the test results was unconstitutional.[4]

Opponents of reverse discrimination view it as a violation of equal protection under law.[3][5]


In India, the term is often used by citizens protesting against reservation and quotas.[6][7][8]

United Kingdom

In November 2007, David Rosin, a former vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons wrote in the magazine Hospital Doctor: “It is time that someone spoke up concerning the reverse discrimination with respect to merit awards” and criticising the fact that "female and ethnic minority consultants are being given preferential treatment to meet artificial quotas".[9]

Northern Ireland

Since the standing down of the RUC, the PSNI has operated a policy of 50/50 recruitment in terms of Catholic and Protestant applicants regardless of a greater number of more suitable candidates from either background. This policy is due to end in 2011 and was instigated to address the imbalance of Catholics in the police force.[10]

See also






  1. Compact Oxford English Dictionary
  2. Chicago Municipal Code, Ch. 2-92, Ch. 2-92-430 and Ch. 2-91-445.
  4. Ricci v. DeStefano (June 29, 2009). This is the full text of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, via Findlaw.
  5. High court backs firefighters in reverse discrimination suit. CNN, June 29, 2009.
  6. Devanesan Nesiah. Discrimination With Reason? The Policy of Reservations in the United States, India and Malaysia. 1997. Oxford University Press. 0195639839.
  7. Excess reservation will cause reverse discrimination, cautions Supreme Court
  8. R. Kent Greenawalt. Discrimination and Reverse Discrimination. 1983. Knopf. ISBN 0394335775.
  9. Templeton, Sarah-Kate (2007-11-18). "'Doctor's Revolt at Anti-White Bias'". London: The Times. Retrieved 2010-06-30.

Further reading

  • Nigel Warburton (2004). "Reverse discrimination". Philosophy: the basics (4th ed.). Routledge. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0415327725.
  • Alina Tryfonidou (2009). Reverse discrimination in EC law. European monographs. 64. Kluwer Law International. ISBN 9041127518.
  • Fred L. Pincus (2003). Reverse discrimination: dismantling the myth. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1588262030.

External links

bg:Позитивна дискриминация de:Umgekehrte Diskriminierung ja:逆差別 pl:Dyskryminacja pozytywna sv:omvänd diskriminering tr:Tersine ayrımcılık zh:逆向歧視

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