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.

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Protected Classes


Discrimination is treating someone differently based on a civil rights protected class. A protected class is a group of people protected against discrimination by University policy or by state and federal law. At UNM, the following are considered protected classes:

  • Age (40 and over)
  • Ancestry/National Origin
  • Color/Race
  • Gender Identity
  • Genetic information
  • Medical Condition
  • Mental/Physical Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Sex/Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Spousal Affiliation
  • Veteran Status

Affirmative Action Statement from UNM President