Equal Opportunity Terms
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Equal Opportunity Terminology
The ability of an individual with a disability to approach, enter, and use an employer's facilities such as reception areas, employment offices, and the actual job site. Referred to in Section 503 of the Handicapped Regulations.
The selection of protected-class members at a rate lower than that of other groups. A selection rate for any race, sex, or ethnic group which is less than four-fifths (4/5 or 80%) of the rate for the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded by the enforcement agencies as evidence of adverse impact.
Employees, former employees, or applicants who have been denied employment opportunities or benefits of discriminatory practices and/or policies of the employer. Evidence of the existence of an affected class require identification of the discriminatory practices, identification of the effects of the discrimination, and identification of those suffering from the effects of the discrimination.
Affirmative Action: Positive steps taken by an employer which contribute toward greater employment opportunities for minorities, females, the elderly, and the disabled. In federal employment, extra effort must be made to include qualified women, minorities, employees over 40, and the disabled at grade levels and in job categories where they are under represented.
Affirmative Action Plans/Affirmative Employment Plan: Written plans for programs required by Executive Order 11478 and other laws and regulations. AAP's may contain studies which show how the work force at the activity has been used, and may include goals and timetables for increasing the representation of protected class members in those areas where they have been under represented.
If the utilization analysis shows underutilization of women or minorities in certain job groups, then special recruitment efforts must be mounted to make certain that these protected-class members are well represented in applicant pools for positions which have been historically underutilized. It may include special overt or outreach recruitment efforts at job fairs, special advertising campaigns in minority and women's media, special contacts to organizations which promote placement of minorities and women, etc.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
A federal law prohibiting age discrimination by employers of 20 or more employees against people over age 40, except where age is a bona fide occupational qualification or where the person is in a certain key executive or policy-making position and his or her retirement pension will be in excess of $44,000 per year. Such employees may be required to retire at age 65.
Age Discrimination: A claim of discrimination based on age by an individual who is at least 40 years of age at the time of the alleged discriminatory act.
Aggrieved Person: A person who believes that he/she has been discriminated against in some way and makes his/her concerns known.
Allegation of Reprisal: A claim of restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or retaliation in connection with presenting or processing a complaint or because of any opposition to an employment practice made unlawful under Title 29 CFR part 1614.
American Indian or Alaska Native A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
A person with origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa who is not of Hispanic origin.
Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ)
Employment in particular jobs may not be limited to individuals of a particular sex, religion, or national origin unless the employer can show that one of these factors is an actual and necessary qualification for performing the job. This concept is interpreted very narrowly by the EEOC. While age may be considered a BFOQ under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (for public safety workers, airline pilots, etc.) race is never a BFOQ.
Burden of Proof
For purposes of definition in this workbook, the term often refers to the burden placed on an employer to present a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its employment action once a member of a protected class shows that he or she has been subject to an adverse employment decision, despite being qualified.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
Federal statutes and executive orders are broad, general statements of law. Federal regulations, on the other hand, fill in the details. For example, Executive Order 11246 requires federal contractors to take affirmative action. The federal regulations issued under that executive order specify exactly how the contractor should do that.
The degree to which federal contractors or subcontractors carry out the goals and commitments in their affirmative action plans or the nondiscrimination clauses in their contracts.
Complainant: An employee, a former employee, or an applicant for employment who files a formal complaint of discrimination based on his/her race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40), physical or mental disability and/or reprisal.
Correction of deficiencies identified during a compliance review of an affirmative action plan. The term is used in deficiency letters, conciliation agreements, and show-cause orders.
Culture: The distinctive body of customs, knowledge, beliefs, and morals, laws, habits, and social institutions that characterize each separate society.
Disability (Impairments): A physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities or major bodily functions. Impairments include any psychological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more systems of the body or any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional illnesses, & learning disabilities.
Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his or her major life activities, (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. A disability is substantially limiting if it is likely to cause difficulty in securing, retaining, or advancing employment.
A person entitled to compensation under laws administered by the Veterans Administration for disability rated at 30% or more, or a person whose discharge or release from active duty was for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
Discrimination: Any act or failure to act, impermissibly based in whole or in part on a person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental handicap, and/or reprisal, that adversely affects privileges, benefits, working conditions, results in disparate treatment, or had a disparate impact on employees or applicants.
Disparate Impact: Under EEO law, less favorable effect for one group than for another. Disparate impact results when rules applied to all employees have a different and more inhibiting effect on women and minority groups than on the majority. For example, nonessential educational requirements for certain jobs can have a disparate impact on minority groups looking for work, as they often been limited in their access to educational opportunities.
Disparate Effect or Disparate Impact: The result of an employment policy, practice, or procedure that, in practical application, has less favorable consequences for a protected class than for the dominant group.
Disparate Treatment: Employment practices such as the use of tests or educational requirements, fair and neutral on their face, which are applied or administered in an unfair manner. An example would be using an “old boy network” to hire for jobs even though the positions have been posted.
Disparate Treatment: Inconsistent application of rules and policies to one group of people over another. Discrimination may result when rules and policies are applied differently to members of protected classes. Disciplining Hispanic and Afro-American employees for tardiness, while ignoring tardiness among other employees, is an example of disparate treatment. Such inconsistent application of rules often leads to complaints.
Diversity: A broad concept that values all people equally, regardless of their differences.
Equal Employment Opportunity: The goal of laws which make some types of discrimination in employment illegal. Equal employment opportunity will become a reality when each U.S. citizen has an equal chance to enjoy the benefits of employment. EEO is not a guarantee of employment for anyone. Under EEO law, only job related factors can be used to determine if an individual is qualified for a particular job. Ideally, EEO laws and Affirmative Action programs combine to achieve equal employment opportunities. See EEO law, Affirmative Action, and Affirmative Action Plan/Affirmative Employment Plan.
Equal Employment Opportunity Laws: Five laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical handicap and mental handicap in any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. The five EEO laws are:
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 and the Pregnancy Disability Act of 1978.
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
A system of employment practices under which no individuals are excluded from consideration, participation, promotion, or benefits because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or veteran status. The purpose of affirmative action is to achieve equal employment opportunity.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The federal government agency designated to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The Commission has five members, all appointed to a five-year term by the president with the advice and approval of Congress.
Equal Pay Act of 1963
A federal law that requires equal pay for males and females in jobs requiring equal skills, efforts, and responsibility.
A group identified on the basis of religion, color, or national origin.
A regulation promulgated by the president that has the effect of law on those governmental matters with which it deals.
Executive Orders 11246, 11375, and 12086
These orders require federal contractors with contracts of $10,000 or more to agree to grant equal employment opportunity on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Additionally, the orders require those who employ 50 or more employees and who hold contracts of $50,000 or more to develop written affirmative action plans.
Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA)
A state or local government agency which administers state or local laws, regulations, or ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex, minority status, and other prohibited factors. Sometimes called the fair housing and employment agency or the state human relations commission where jurisdictions go beyond the employment scene.
Ethnic Group: A group of people who share a common religion, color, or national origin. Irish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews are examples of ethnic groups. Some members of ethnic groups participate in the customs and practices of their groups, while others do not. Discrimination based on these customs and practices may be illegal under EEO law. See Minority.
Formal Complaint: A written complaint alleging that a specific act of discrimination or reprisal/retaliation has/have taken place.
Those actions that the contractor may voluntarily develop to achieve compliance with the contract's equal opportunity and affirmative action clauses. The results of these efforts are measured by the contractor's degree of adherence to goals and timetables. Good-faith efforts may excuse a contractor from failing to meet a goal or save the employer from sanctions.
Griggs v. Duke Power Co.
The landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1971 which determined that employment tests or qualifications which screen out minorities or women at a higher rate than other candidates cannot be used unless the employer proves that such a selection method is related to the job for which it is used. Such proof must be in the form of a validation study.
Hearing: The presentation of such oral and written evidence concerning a complaint of discrimination presented before the EEOC.
Hispanic or Latino A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Informal Complaint: A matter of alleged discrimination which an aggrieved person brings to the attention of the OEO Director before a formal discrimination complaint is filed.
A written statement detailing the responsibilities and duties of incumbents in a particular job title.
One or more positions having similar content, wage rates, and opportunities.
The education, work experience, and other abilities required for a job.
All persons in the civilian labor force, plus members of the armed forces.
Labor Force Participation
The rate at which a given group (usually referring to protected class groups) is represented in the civilian labor force.
Job Related or Essential Job Function: Essential to job performance. The knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience necessary to perform a particular job. Tests are job related if they test whether an applicant or employee can perform the job in question. A rule or practice is job related if it is necessary for the safe and efficient performance of a particular job. For example, a rule prohibiting employees from wearing loose, flowing clothing around high speed rotating equipment is job related. However, the same rule applied in an office with no rotating equipment is not job related, and may have a disparate impact on some ethnic minorities.
Minority: The smaller part of a group. A group within a country or state that differs in race, religion or national origin from the dominant group. According to EEOC guidelines, minority is used to mean four particular groups who share a race, color or national origin.
These groups are:
- American Indian or Alaskan Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintain their culture through a tribe or community.
- Asian or Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original people of the Far East, Southeast Asia, India, or the Pacific Islands. These areas include, for example, China, India, Korea, the Philippine Islands, and Samoa.
- Black (except Hispanic). A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
- Hispanic. A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
- The many peoples with origins in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East make up the dominant white population. Of course, many more minority groups can be identified in the American population. However, they are not classified separately as minorities under EEO law. It should be noted that women are not classified as a minority. However, they have experienced the same kind of systematic exclusion from the economy as the various minorities. Thus, they are considered as having "minority status" as far as the law is concerned.
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
Numerical Goal: A target number of qualified women and minorities hired and advanced within a given period of time through an Affirmative Action Program. A numerical goal is not a quota, as it may not be reached within the time frame. It does not permit the hiring or advancement of unqualified employees. Numerical goals provide a standard which allows an activity to measure the effectiveness of its Affirmative Action Program. When numerical goals are reached, the percent of women and minority group members working at appropriate grade levels and classifications will be closer to their percentage in the labor market.
Prima Facie: This Latin term translates as "on first view", or "at first appearance." Complainants present evidence and arguments to support a claim of discrimination. If those arguments cannot be rebutted with additional evidence, the claim will be supported by the court within further argument. Thus, a prima facie case is established. In the EEO area, statistics of under utilization have been sufficient to make a prima facie case for discrimination.
Protected Class: The groups protected from the employment discrimination by law. These groups include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps. Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.
National Voter Registration Act of 1993: Also known as the "Motor Voter Act," makes it easier for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote. One of the basic purposes of the Act is to increase the historically low registration rates of minorities and persons with disabilities that have resulted from discrimination. The Motor Voter Act requires all offices of State-funded programs that are primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities to provide all program applicants with voter registration forms, to assist them in completing the forms, and to transmit completed forms to the appropriate State official.
This is the failure to follow the conditions specified in a contract's equal opportunity or affirmative action clauses and the regulations applicable to those clauses.
A clause required in federal contracts with suppliers in which the supplier commits to take affirmative action in employment, upgrading, transfer, promotion, demotion, layoff, termination, and training.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
An office within the U.S. Department of Labor which has the responsibility of administering Executive Order 11246 and its implementing regulations.
The employment of women and minorities in various job groups at levels which approximate the external availability of qualified members of those groups for those particular job categories.
Position Announcement: A document used to advertise a position vacancy. Position announcements typically contain a brief description of the position, title/rank, requisite and preferred qualifications for the position, salary range, preferred start date, materials required for application, the name and address of the primary contact (e.g., committee/department chair or secretary), the date by which application materials should be received, and a statement regarding the affirmative action/equal opportunity policy of the University.
Position Description: A document which reflects the purpose, accountabilities, and duties of a job. Position descriptions should be developed in consultation with the Human Resources department.
Protected Class: Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or ancestry, age, religion or creed, disability, veteran status, and genetic testing and screening. University policy also prohibits discrimination on the basis or sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Protected Issue: Decisions covered by anti-discrimination laws. In employment law relates to terms & conditions such as hiring, promotion, layoff / demotion/ termination, access to training. In education includes access to educational programs, services/ activities, admissions, academic evaluation & advancement, financial aide and athletics.
The period during which a female employee is unable to do the duties of the job because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employees in this situation must be treated the same as those with disabilities caused by other medical conditions.
Protects against unauthorized use of personally identified data by any agency of the federal government. The employee must consent to the release of the data.
A personnel action that results in a person moving to a job requiring higher skill or talents and usually involving greater pay or title.
A group of people protected from employment discrimination under government regulations and laws, specifically identified as women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians or Pacific Islanders, American Indians or Alaskan Natives, people over age 40, the disabled as defined under Section 503, and disabled veterans and Vietnam era veterans as defined under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act.
Qualified Disabled Individual/Veteran
A disabled individual/veteran who is capable of performing a particular job with reasonable accommodation to his or her disability.
Changes in the job or workplace that enable a disabled individual/veteran to perform the duties as identified in his/her job description. Also refers to adjustments made by an employer to accommodate an employee whose religious beliefs forbid working certain days and hours.
A determination made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that there is a basis to believe that a charge or complaint is true.
The area from which an employer can and does expect to recruit employees.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973
A federal law that required contractors and subcontractors with contracts in excess of $2,500 to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment disabled individuals.
Relevant Labor Area
The labor market area from which candidates are usually drawn for certain jobs. This may be a local area or a national market.
Includes all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief.
The means used to correct problem areas; a term used in conciliation agreements and letters of commitment. The purpose of the remedial provisions of the Civil Rights Act is to make whole the victims of discrimination.
The skills needed to do a job; those skills that make a person eligible for consideration for employment in a job.
Quota: Fixed hiring and promotion rates based on race, sex, or other protected class standards which must be met at all costs. In extreme cases, the courts have assigned quotas to some employers who have continued to practice illegal discrimination. The agency or any other employer cannot use quotas to meet their affirmative action goals unless a court orders it. Quotas are considered discriminatory against males and other non minority people.
Reasonable Accommodation: Any change in the work or classroom environment, in the way things are customarily done, or in the application process that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. The three general categories of reasonable accommodation are changes to: (1) job application process to permit people with disabilities to be considered for jobs; (2) enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of a job; and (3) give people with disabilities equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment.
Retaliation/Reprisal: Unlawful restraint, coercion or discrimination against complainants, their representatives, witnesses, OEO Staff, and other institutional officials with responsibility for processing discrimination complaints.
Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature based on one or more of the following conditions a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Substantially Limits: The degree an impairment affects employability or significantly restricts an individual’s ability to perform a major life activity which can be performed by the average person in the general population.
Targeted Recruitment: Specific efforts to recruit underutilized affected groups.
Under Represented: Inadequately represented in the work force of a particular activity. This term is used to describe the extent to which women and minorities are represented in particular grade levels and job categories. The percentage of women and minorities in the labor market is used as a standard to determine under representation. For example, suppose there are 100 GS-12's at an agency; three of them or 3% are black. However, the black labor market for GS-12 positions at that particular activity is 15%. In this case, blacks are under represented at the GS -12 level.
Under Utilized: To use less than fully; below potential use. This term is often applied to categories of employees who are working at jobs that do not make use of their skills and abilities, although they may have been hired for those skills and abilities. When an employee is consistently assigned to "dead end" jobs, he or she may be under utilized because they are often seen as able to perform only limited tasks.
Undue Hardship/ Undue Burden: An accommodation that is unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the organization.
The proportion of applicants or candidates who are hired, promoted, or otherwise selected.
Discriminatory or disparate treatment of an individual because of his or her sex.
Terms and Conditions of Employment
These words encompass all aspects of an employee's relationship with an employer.
A federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It applies to all employers of 15 or more employees, regardless of whether or not they are federal contractors.
Fewer women or minorities in a job group than their proportion in the contractor's workforce.
Having fewer women or minorities in the employer's workforce than could reasonably be expected based on their availability in the labor area.
In order for an employer to be able to refuse an employee's request for accommodation because of disability or religious beliefs, the employer must be able to prove that the accommodation would cause undue hardship. Undue hardship is measured in terms of business necessity and financial cost and expenses.
The comparison of the number of minorities and women in the employer's workforce and the jobs that they occupy, to the availability of minorities and women in the contractor's labor area, and, in the case of promotional jobs, those promotable employees in the contractor's own workforce.
Vietnam Era Veteran
A person who served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge, if any part of the person's active duty occurred in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 or between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, in all other cases; or was discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability if any part of the person's active duty was performed in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 or between August 5, 1965 and May 7, 1975, in all other cases.
Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA)
A federal law that requires firms holding federal contracts of subcontracts of $25,000 or more to take affirmative action to hire and advance covered veterans in employment. VEVRAA covers all veterans who served on active duty during a war (World War II, Korea, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia) or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.
White A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
Workforce Profile: Total employees by race, sex, job group, salary, and department.
Major federal laws covering affirmative action, equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment include:
Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the EPA.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education are covered by Title VI. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title VI.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, national origin and religion. It also is unlawful under the Act for an employer to take retaliatory action against any individual for opposing employment practices made unlawful by Title VII or for filing a discrimination charge or for testifying or assisting or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII against private employers and the Employment Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice enforces Title VII against state and local government employers.
Executive Order 11246 requires certain government contractors to engage in affirmative action and to not discriminate based on race, sex, or national origin. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (U.S. Department of Labor) is the agency charged with enforcing the EO11246 and ensuring that federal contractors are in compliance.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967(ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the ADEA.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and extends to employment and admission to institutions that receive Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title IX.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects people from discrimination in admission, employment, treatment or access based on disability in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title VI.
Age Discrimination Act of 1975 protects people from discrimination based on age in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing ADA of 1975.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by employers with 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office for Civil Rights are the agencies assigned to enforce Title I of the ADA.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, including public colleges and universities whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title II of the ADA.
Civil Rights Act of 1991(CRA) provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the CRA of 1991.