What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is partiality or bias in the treatment of a person or group that is unfair or illegal. Discrimination is treating someone differently based on a protected class (see list, right).

Not all discrimination is illegal. One can be subject to unfair treatment that is not illegal under University policy or state or federal law, for example, being treated unfairly because someone doesn't like you or because of your political affiliations.

Differential Treatment

Differential treatment means treating someone differently than similarly situated individuals because of that person's protected class status.

Hostile Environment

The creation of a hostile environment happens when an individual is subject to severe and/or frequent conduct based on protected class status that creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work, educational or living environment that unreasonably interferes with that individual's employment or educational performance.

Not every instance of treating someone differently constitutes discrimination. For example, treating two employees differently because of differences in performance is not discrimination.


Are all ages protected?

No. University policy and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibit discrimination against individuals who are 40 and over in both the academic and employment settings.

What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work, living, or any other type of environment is one in which an employee, student, patient, or any other participant in a University activity is subject to unwelcome and unwanted disparaging or derogatory conduct that is based on one (or more) of the protected classes. The conduct has to be sufficiently pervasive or severe so as to create an offensive, intimidating, threatening, or hostile environment.

How is pregnancy protected under University policy and state and federal law?
Pregnancy (also protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination in all employment related practices and decisions (including benefits and fringe benefits) based on pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition. Therefore, women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.

Do I have to follow a particular chain of command to complain about illegal discrimination or sexual harassment?
No. If you have concerns or complaints of illegal discrimination or sexual harassment, you may go to any supervisor with that concern or you may go directly to the OEO or Human Resources.

Can a supervisor or anyone else retaliate against me for having complained to the OEO?
The University has an anti-retaliation policy under which all individuals who initiate or participate in an OEO/AA proceeding are protected, including witnesses who cooperate with an OEO proceeding, individuals who make a request for disability accommodation, or individuals who assert the civil rights of another. If you feel as though action has been taken against you for having initiated or participated in an OEO proceeding, you may file a complaint with the OEO.