EO/AA Definitions


ACCESSIBILITY

The freedom of a physically or mentally impaired individual to approach, enter, and use or participate in an organization's programs, activities, benefits, services, and employment opportunities.

ADVERSE IMPACT

Occurs when employment decisions such as hiring, promotion, and termination have the effect of excluding a significant proportion of women or members of minority groups.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

involves a comprehensive program of activities by which an employer takes "proactive" steps to remove barriers and improve the work opportunities of persons belonging to groups that have been historically deprived of such opportunities in regard to personnel actions such as recruitment, hiring, promotion and training.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLAN

A written document conforming to certain government regulations in which an employer conducts an analysis of its workforce to ascertain whether, the extent to which members of protected groups are underutilized in specific job groups. In those areas where problems are identified, the employer must set goals to eliminate the underutilization.

BONAFIDE OCCUPATIONAL QUALIFICATION (BFOQ)

A job requirement that permits an employer to discriminate on the basis of sex, age, or religion. (Examples include requiring that a performer playing the part of a woman be female, or that a clergyman seeking to pastor a particular religious organization be a member of that particular religion. The courts interpret BFOQ very narrowly).

BUSINESS NECESSITY

When an organization's employment practices adversely affect members of a protected group, the organization must be able to demonstrate that the challenged practices are essential to its operation and that no alternative nondiscriminatory practice could be used.

CHARGE (COMPLAINT) OF DISCRIMINATION

A statement alleging discrimination, harassment, or retaliation filed with the organization's HR/AA Office or with a governmental agency that handles discrimination charges.

DIRECT THREAT

Significant risk or substantial harm to the health or safety of an individual or others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation. A determination that an individual with a disability poses a "direct threat" is based on reasonable medical judgment.

DISABLED INDIVIDUAL

A person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. An impairment is considered "substantially limiting" if it is likely to cause difficulty in securing, retaining, or advancing in employment. "Major life activities" include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

DISCRIMINATION

An act or acts, the effect of which are adverse to the employment of one or more individuals because of his/her age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or veteran's status. Such factors may not be considered as a basis for employment actions. Unlawful discrimination may be either intentional or unintentional.

DISPARATE IMPACT

Applies to employment practices such as testing, or other selection procedures, which, although appearing to be neutral on their face, result in adverse impact against a group as, determined through statistical analysis.

DISPARATE TREATMENT

Discrimination by which an employer (supervisor) treats certain people differently simply because they are members of a protected group. Comparative, statistical or direct evidence including documents and testimony of witnesses may be used to prove disparate treatment.

DIVERSITY

Efforts that usually have a stated objective to make the environment more hospitable to all people by eliminating prejudice and embracing differences. This concept recognizes the richness that varied cultural and ethnic perspectives and life experiences can contribute.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

The primary job duties that are intrinsic to the employment position an individual holds or desires. The term does not include marginal or peripheral functions of a position that are incidental to the performance of primary job functions. A job function may be "essential" to a position if (1) the reason the position exists is to perform that function, (2) there are a limited number of employees available to perform that function, or (3) the function is highly specialized so that the individual hired for the position must possess the expertise or ability to perform that particular function.

GENDER DISCRIMINATION

Synonymous with "sex discrimination".

GOALS

Numerical projections contained in an Affirmative Action Plan which indicate the employer's targeted efforts, through new hires, to achieve minority and female representation in its workforce that would be commensurate with the availability of minorities and women in the broader labor market.

HARASSMENT

Harassing conduct, whether physical, verbal graphic, or written, directed at an individual on the basis of his/her race, color, or national original that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of the individual to perform his/her work or to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges of his/her academic program.

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

JOB DESCRIPTION

A written statement detaining the major duties and responsibilities with a particular position title. All job descriptions should specifically identify the "essential functions" of the position.

JOB QUALIFICATIONS

The educational background, prior work experiences, necessary skills and abilities, and any other requirements an applicant must possess in order to be considered for employment or promotion into a particular position.

JOB RELATEDNESS

The extent to which the criteria utilized by an employer (or supervisor) to determine hires, promotions, salary increases, training opportunities, transfers, terminations, etc., is directly related to the job qualifications and on-the-job performance.

PROTECTED CLASS (GROUP) MEMBER

Any individual, who by virtue of his race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, or veteran's status, is protected by anti-discrimination laws. Protected class members are typically thought of as women, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. However, people with disabilities, Vietnam Era Veterans, disabled veterans, and persons over 40 (regardless of race or sex) are also included.

QUID PRO QUO

Unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors in which submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for an employment or academic decision.

QUOTA(S)

Absolute numbers of hires or other placements imposed on an employer by a court, which is designed to remedy proven, egregious discrimination that has had lingering effects on the composition of the workforce. Quotas should not be confused with goals. Only a very tiny fraction of employers are subject to mandatory quota hiring requirements pursuant to a court order based upon findings of proven discrimination.

RACIAL (ETHNIC) MINORITY

Any person considered or who self-identifies him/herself as African American (Black), Native American, Asian, or Hispanic.

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION

Any alternations, adjustments, or changes in the job and/or workplace, which will enable an otherwise, qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job. This is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual circumstances. This term also refers to any adjustments made by an employer to accommodate an employee whose religious beliefs forbid working on certain days or hours.

RETALIATION

An act or acts which intimidate, coerce, or prevent an individual from filing a complaint of discrimination or cooperating with a complaint investigation, or which otherwise interferes with an individual's right to file or participate. The term also includes any adverse employment or academic action taken in response to or as a result of an individual's filing or participating in the investigation of a complaint.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature which may include sexual innuendos; pressure for dates'; inappropriate remarks about a person's clothing, body or sex life; unnecessary touching, patting or pinching; staring; or demands for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats affecting one's job and/or terms and conditions of employment.

SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION

Employment policies and practices that, though neutral on their face, serve to perpetuate differential treatment of certain applicants or employees because of their race color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or veterans' status. Intent to discriminate may or may not be involved.