An equal opportunity employer is a term which possesses differing definitions, thus yielding no consensus as to a precise meaning. In a classical sense, the term equal opportunity employer refers to the concept of equality before law, which in essence upholds an idea of meritocracy.
Equal opportunity, through a philosophical sense, contrasts against the concept of equality of outcome. In modern terms, equal opportunity refers to the fact that an employer will not judge their candidates based on race or religious creed and will extend the employment opportunity to individuals of all races, religions, and genders.
The term is somewhat new, for the presence of equal opportunities in the workforce has become necessary to promote diversity and uphold the equal rights awarded through the Civil Rights Movement and the basic social evolution of American society.
Civil laws has more information regarding equal opportunity employers.