Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is a term used by the federal government to refer to employment practices that ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, physical or mental ability, medical condition, ancestry, or age. The principle behind EEO is that everyone should have the same access to opportunities. EEO is legally mandated for all federal contractors.
Affirmative action is one aspect of the federal government's efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity. The purpose of affirmative action programs is to promote fairness and address the effects of past discrimination in employment by encouraging targeted outreach efforts to attract underutilized minorities and women.