Who is responsible for funding "reasonable accommodation" requests?

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation act of 1973 (as amended) are federal laws that mandate that all university programs, services and activities be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes students, employees (of all categories including students and contracted employees), applicants for employment or admission, and members of the public attending university events or using university facilities. Any costs associated with reasonable accommodations required by this mandate shall be the responsibility of one or more individual units, in accordance with the following guidelines:

The Disability Resource Services office is responsible for the costs directly associated with reasonable instructional accommodations for officially enrolled students.

Changes in facilities (e.g. restrooms, doors, ramps, etc.) and the removal of fixed barriers in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) will be the responsibility of the university. Removal of temporary obstacles is the responsibility for the unit involved.

Financial responsibility for providing reasonable accommodations (other than general barrier removal) to employees, applicants, or public uses with disabilities belongs to the employing unit, academic unit, or unit sponsoring the public activity.

The cost of accommodation will be the responsibility of the lowest organizational level. Should this cost create an undue financial burden, the unit must apply to the next successive level as follows:


Unit Representative

Department sub unit or program



Dept. Chair or Director

School, College, or Division

Dean or Division Head


Chancellor or designee

Among the criteria to be considered about whether a unit should have assistance in funding the accommodation from a higher-level administrative unit, is the impact on the support and expense budget that the request would represent. Decision makers may obtain advice from the ADA Coordinator in Human Resources. Using this process to obtain funding shall not be a reason to deny or delay providing a reasonable accommodation.

I'm having difficulty with a co-worker.  I'm not sure I want to or should file a complaint.  Is there someone I can talk to privately before initiating a formal process?

There are specific procedures in place for reporting certain types of behavior, such as:  sexual harassment, discrimination of a protected class, hate crimes, workplace violence, or violation of personnel rules. Click here to learn about those procedures and definitions.

If your co-worker's behavior does not fall into one of these categories, and depending upon your classification, you may take your concern to a variety of individuals.  Whenever possible, you are encouraged to begin with your first-line supervisor, or their higher authority if the co-worker in question is your first-line supervisor.  If that is not possible, a private conversation may be had with: 

  • Nizam Arain, Director of Equity & Affirmative Action, 131 Graff Main Hall
  • Kathy Accola, Employee Relations Specialist, Human Resources, 144 Graff Main Hall

Is there training or guidance for chairs of Search & Screen committees?

For many people, chairing a Search & Screen committee may be a first-time experience; for others, it's been a while and the process may have changed.  The offices of Equity & Affirmative Action and Human Resources are here to guide you and will be of assistance in any way they can.  Feel free to contact any of the persons listed below if you have questions. 

Human Resources offers one-on-one training for Search & Screen chairs on the use of our recruitment software program, People Admin.  Contact Human Resources to set up an appointment. Nizam Arain, Director of Equity & Affirmative Action, will meet with Search & Screen Committees to guide them on how best to meet their hiring goals or to address any questions ensuring legal compliance and equal employment opportunity.  

Who represents me?

Faculty and Instructional Academic Staff (IAS) are governed by Faculty Senate. For information about Faculty Senate, employees should refer to the Faculty Senate webpage.

Non-Instructional Academic Staff (NIAS) are governed by the Academic Staff Council. For information about the Academic Staff Council, employees should refer to the Academic Staff Council webpage.

University Staff (formerly Classified Staff) are governed by the University Staff Council. (Crafts workers are covered by a bargaining unit.) 

What should I do if I receive abusive or offensive email messages from a colleague, professor, or student?

The right to be free of abusive, offensive, or patently unwanted material, along with other policies governing the use of university technology is covered under the university's policy regarding Responsible Use of Computing Services.  Although appropriate and thoughtful feedback is encouraged and welcomed by all staff, employees are reminded to retain their professionalism at all times in their interactions with each other and with the public. In this case, the recipient should inform the sender that s/he found the language used to be offensive, inappropriate and unprofessional.  

Issues concerning these policies, or allegations of harassment or other irresponsible use of information technology resources, should be brought to the attention of Equity & Affirmative Action or CIO Mohamed Elhindi (melhindi@uwlax.edu).

What should I do if a professor or staff member is engaging in conversation of a sexually suggestive or explicit nature?

All employees should be respectful and professional when speaking to colleagues, co-workers, students or the public. Even if offense is not intended, words or actions that have a sexual connotation can be disrputive to the educational or work environments and can cause others to feel unsafe. All staff should familiarize themselves with the definition of sexual harassment and our policies.

If you are witness to, or are the recipient of, unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature, you can choose to discuss your feelings with the person responsible. Sometimes, they may not be aware their remarks or behavior are offensive and, when this is brought to their attention, a reasonable person will refrain from that behavior in the future. If you do not see this as an option, there are informal and formal steps to take toward a successful resolution. Informally, and depending upon your status (i.e., faculty, staff, student), there are personnel in a number of campus offices who can serve as a resource, including: Equity & Affirmative Action, Human Resources, Office of Student Life, and Campus Climate. If you are not sure what to do, contact someone in one of those offices for guidance and advice. Formal complaints are filed with and investigated by the appropriate university officials per UW-La Crosse Policy on Sexual Harassment.

(If you do not find your Question addressed, you may email aad@uwlax.edu for a personal response or referral to the appropriate office.)

Disability Accommodation

It is the policy of UWL to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment. UW-La Crosse will adhere to all applicable federal and state laws, regulations, and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as required to afford equal employment opportunity to qualified disabled individuals. Reasonable accommodations will be provided in a timely and cost effective manner. Employment opportunities shall not be denied because of the need to make reasonable accommodations to an individual's disability. A copy of the UWL Reasonable Accommodation Policy can be viewed at the Human Resources Office. Questions regarding this policy can be directed to the ADA Coordinator in Human Resources, 144 Graff Main Hall.


Funding for Diversity Initiatives

Criminal Background Check

Employment at UWL will require a criminal background check. A pending criminal charge or conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant. In compliance with the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, the University does not discriminate on the basis of arrest or conviction record.

A complete copy of UWL's Criminal Background Check policy can be found on the HR webpage.

Exit Interview Survey

Staff leaving the university are encouraged to fill out an Exit Questionnaire.  To take the survey, contact Affirmative Action at the link below.

If you would like a private exit interview, please call 608-785-8541 to set up an appointment. 

Legal/International Employment Issues

  • Faculty - contact Madeline Holzem, Director of Human Resources, 785-8013
  • Student - contact Diane Sasaki, International Education & Engagement, 785-8921

Sexual Harassment or Assault


This is a glossary of terms used by our office. For additional and/or expanded definitions, please see the Diversity Terminology page on the Campus Climate website. 


Aptitude or competence, the skill or proficiency needed to perform certain tasks.


The extent to which a building or other facility is readily approachable and does not inhibit the mobility of individuals with disabilities. Accessibility can also refer to the extent to which curriculum and programming has been designed to accommodate the needs of individuals of all abilities, including cognitive, learning, and sensory.

Adverse Impact

Practices or policies that result in the selection of members of a protected class at a rate lower than that of other groups. Enforcement agencies look for a selection rate for a race, sex or ethnic group that is less than four-fifths (80 percent) of the group with the highest rate as evidence of adverse impact.

Affirmative Action (AA)

Actions, policies and procedures in recruiting, hiring, promotions and all other personnel actions that are designed to achieve equal employment opportunity and eliminate the effects of past and present discrimination, particularly on the basis of race and gender. Affirmative action requires: (1) thorough, systematic efforts to prevent discrimination from occurring or to detect and eliminate it as promptly as possible and (2) recruitment and outreach measures. Affirmative Action does not involve quotas or preferential treatment for any job applicants based on race, gender, or any other status.

Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)

A written set of specific, results-oriented procedures to be followed by all federal contractors holding contracts of $50,000 or more and employing 50 or more people and intended to remedy the effects of past discrimination against or underutilization of women and minorities. The effectiveness of the plan is measured by the results it actually achieves rather than by the results intended and by the good faith efforts undertaken by the contractor to increase the pool of qualified women and minorities in all parts of the organization.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

ADEA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age by employers of 20 or more employees against people over 40. The law exempts from coverage cases where age is a bona-fide occupational qualification or where an individual is in a certain key executive or policy-making position and will have a pension in excess of $40,000 per year the law. These employees may be required to retire at age 65.

American Indian or Alaskan Native

A person with origins in any of the original peoples of North America who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or has community recognition as an American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Annual Goal

An annual target for the placement of underutilized groups of protected class members in job groups where underutilization exists.


A person who seeks work at a certain employers' facilities who meets certain prescribed standards, as defined by the employer.

Applicant Flow

The number of people who apply for employment for a job title over a certain period of time, sorted and analyzed by gender and race.

Applicant Flow Log

A chronological listing that records each applicant who applies for employment or promotion. Data includes applicant's name, race, national origin, gender, referral source, date of application, job title applied for and disposition.

Applicant Pool

All of the people who have applied for particular jobs over a period of time who form the collection of candidates from which selection decisions are made.

Asian or Pacific Islander

A person with origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent or the Pacific Islands. This area includes, for example, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Republic and Samoa and, on the Indian subcontinent, includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.


The availability of minorities or women for a job group means the percentage of minorities or women among persons in the relevant labor area and/or internal feeder pools having the requisite qualifications to perform the positions included in the job group. The term is broad enough to include any factor that is in fact relevant to determining the availability of individuals for the jobs in the job group. Availability figures are used in determining whether underutilization exists and, where a goal is established, in determining the level of the goal.

In determining availability for a job group, a contractor must consider at least the two factors specified in 21 C.F.R Section 2.14 (c).


An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.

Black (or African-American)

An individual, not of Hispanic origin, with origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ)

A defense allowing an employer to limit a particular job to members of one sex, religion or national origin group. The courts have held that the statutory BFOQ provision in Title VII is a very narrow exception to the general prohibition against discrimination on the basis of those characteristics. In enforcing the Executive Order, OFCCP follows Title VII principles regarding the BFOQ exception. An employer claiming that sex is a BFOQ for a job has to show that all (or substantially all) members of the excluded sex are incapable of performing the duties of the job and that failure to allow the exclusion would undermine the "essence"--the central purpose or mission--of the employer's business. Race can never be considered a BFOQ for a job.

Bullying in the Workplace

For definitions and policies regarding bullying, please see UWL's Bullying Prevention and Response Policy.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a comprehensive federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII of the law was the first to specifically ban discrimination in the employment setting and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


Category of division based on economic status, which can include income or net worth measured on an individual or household basis.


An allegation by the administration, students, academic staff members, other faculty members, classified staff members, or members of the public concerning conduct by a faculty member or academic staff which violates university rules or policies, or which adversely affects the faculty member's or academic staff person's performance of his/her obligation to the university but which allegations are not serious enough to warrant dismissal proceedings under ch. UWS 4.  Complaints & Grievance procedures are outlined in the Unclassified Personnel Rules.  For Faculty, See Chapter 6:  Complaints & Grievances; For Academic Staff, See Chapter 13


Meeting the requirements and obligations of affirmative action imposed by Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act and their implementing regulations.

Conciliation Agreement

A binding written agreement between a contractor and OFCCP that details specific contractor commitments to resolve major or substantive violations of Executive Order 11246, the Rehabilitation Act or the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act.


A contractor is a firm that does business with the federal government. A prime contractor receives $50,000 or more in contracts each year and employs more than 50 people in total employment. A subcontractor performs part of the contract at the direction of the prime contractor and receives $10,000 or more in subcontracts each year.

Corrective Action

Correction of deficiencies identified during a compliance review of an affirmative action plan.


The patterns of daily life learned consciously and unconsciously by a group of people. These patterns can be seen in language, governing practices, arts, customs, holiday celebrations, food, religion, dating rituals, and clothing.

Department of Labor (DOL)

Administrative agency of the federal government charged with administering and enforcing employment laws.

Desk Audit

A review of a contractor's documents and materials to determine compliance with affirmative action practices and equal employment obligations as they relate to workforce structure, personnel policies and procedures, good-faith efforts and areas of potential discrimination. The Standard Compliance Review Report (SCRR) provides instructions for conducting a desk audit, which takes its name from the fact that this review and analysis is done at the desk of the compliance officer assigned to conduct the audit.


A. The term disability means, with respect to an individual:

1. a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; 
2. a record of such impairment; or 
3. being regarded as having such an impairment.

The following conditions are excluded from the definition of disability: homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, gender identity disorders, current psychoactive substance use disorders, and other sexual behavior disorders.

For purposes of this policy, the term "disability" is used with the understanding that it has the same meaning as "handicap" in state and federal law. (See State Fair Employment Act [s. 111.32 (8)]; Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act and 45 CFR 85.3; Americans with Disabilities Act and 29 CFR 1630).

B. The term major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

C. The term qualified individual with a disability means an individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.

D. The term reasonable accommodation means a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, the job application process, or the way things are usually done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job and to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. Reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to, making facilities accessible, adjusting work schedules, restructuring jobs, providing assisting devices or equipment, providing readers or interpreters, and modifying examinations, training materials or policies.

Disabled Veteran

A person whose discharge or release from active duty was for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is entitled to a 30 percent or more disability payment under the regulations of the Office of Veteran's Affairs.


Illegal treatment of a person or group of persons based on race, sex or other prohibited factor. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education (ED). Discrimination on the bases of race, color and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;  sex discrimination is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973  and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990  (Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance); and age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.

These civil rights laws extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries and museums that receive federal financial assistance from ED. Programs or activities that receive ED funds must provide aids, benefits or services in a nondiscriminatory manner. Such aids, benefits or services may include, but are not limited to, admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, vocational education, recreation, physical education, athletics, housing and employment.

Source: U.S. Department of Education http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html

Disparate Impact

A theory or category of employment discrimination. Disparate impact discrimination can be found when a contractor's or employer's use of an otherwise neutral selection standard, such as a test, an interview or a degree requirement, disqualifies members of a particular race or gender at a significantly higher rate than others and is not justified by business necessity or job-relatedness. An intent to discriminate is not necessary to this type of employment discrimination. The disparate impact theory can be used to analyze both objective and subjective selection standards.

Disparate Treatment

A theory or category of employment discrimination. Disparate treatment discrimination can be found when a contractor or employer treats an individual or group differently because of its race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or veteran status. An intent to discriminate is a necessary element in this type of employment discrimination, and can be shown by direct evidence or inferred through statistical, anecdotal and/or comparative evidence.


Diversity means difference: all of the dimensions of difference that exist between human beings, including our identities, experiences, abilities, and worldviews. Diversity is relational: it exists in any interaction, relationship between people. The word "diverse" is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to individual persons of color, persons with disabilities, or persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender. When we refer to just these individuals, or these groups, as "diverse," we perpetuate the assumption that there is a "norm" (white, heterosexual, non-disabled) that is not "diverse".


Under EEOC Policy Guidelines, a person or persons engaging in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of the 20 or more weeks in the preceding year or any agent thereof. Includes state and local governments, any federal agency subject to the provisions of Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Also includes any federal contractor or subcontractor or federally assisted construction contractor covered by Executive Order 11246, as amended.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all employees (regardless of appointment percentage and including limited term and project employees) and their immediate family members, including domestic partners. The EAP provides professional, confidential assistance to help individuals resolve concerns that affect their personal lives or work performance. UW−La Crosse cares about its employees and recognizes that work performance can be affected by problems related and unrelated to your job.

Employment Practice

Any recruitment, hiring, selection practice, transfer or promotion policy, or any benefit provision or other function of the employer's employment process that operates as an analysis or screening device.


A quality assigned to a specific group of people historically connected by a common national origin or language. Ethnic classification is used for identification rather than differentiation.

Equal Employment Opportunity

A system of employment practices under which individuals are not excluded from any participation, advancement or benefits due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin or any other action which cannot lawfully be the basis for employment actions.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Established by Congress, the EEOC is made up of members appointed by the President and receives, processes and investigates charges of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. If the commission determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the law has been violated, it first tries to obtain remedies for the affected individuals through conciliation and can bring suit in federal district court if conciliation efforts fail.

Equal Pay Act of 1963

A federal law that bars employers from paying different wages to men and women who are performing equal work. Generally, the work of two employees is considered equal when both jobs require equal skill, effort and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions. EPA also applies to labor unions.

Executive Orders 11246, 11375 and 12086

Regulations promulgated by the President that have the effect of law on those governmental matters with which they deal. These orders require contractors with contracts of $10,000 or more to provide equal employment opportunity on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. These orders also require the preparation of a written affirmative action plan for contractors with $50,000 or more in contracts and 50 or more employees.

Goal Achievement

How well a contractor has progressed toward meeting employment or promotion targets set to correct underutilization of protected class members.

Good Faith Efforts

Actions voluntarily developed by contractors to achieve compliance with equal employment opportunity and affirmative action clauses. The basic components of good-faith efforts are: (1) outreach and recruitment measures to broaden candidate pools from which selection decisions are made to include minorities and women and (2) systematic efforts to assure that selections thereafter are made without regard to race, sex or other prohibited factors. Results of these efforts are measured in terms of their effectiveness in assisting the contractor in meeting or making progress toward targets set to correct underutilization.


A grievance is defined as "a written complaint by an employee requesting relief in a matter which is of concern or dissatisfaction relating to conditions of employment and which is subject to the control of the employer."  Should it become necessary for any employee to file a grievance/complaint, the employee should seek council with the appropriate bargaining unit or governance group.  Employees may contact Human Resources for clarification regarding bargaining unit or governance group representatives.

Source:  UW-La Crosse Employee Handbook

A grievance of discrimination is defined as "an allegation that the grievant has been discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, age, religion, national origin, or handicap in the interpretation of application of a University policy, regulation or procedure relating to the privilege, terms and conditions of employment."  Informal and Formal Grievances of Discrimination are filed with the Affirmative Action Officer.

Source: UWL Faculty and Academic Staff Grievance Procedures



Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and/or age. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment. They should clearly communicate to employees that unwelcome harassing conduct will not be tolerated. They can do this by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process, providing anti-harassment training to their managers and employees, and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.

Employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Employees should also report harassment to management at an early stage to prevent its escalation.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. This does not include persons of Portuguese descent or persons from Central or South America who are not of Spanish origin or culture

Hostile Work Environment

All sorts of things can create what employees deem to be a "hostile work environment". But, in the legal sense, a hostile work environment is caused by unwelcome conduct in the workplace, in the form of discriminatory harassment toward one or more employees.

Other names for a hostile work environment include intimidating work environmentoffensive work environmentabusive work environment and hostile workplace.

The harassing workplace bully might be an employee, such as a bad boss or coworker, or even a non-employee, such as a client or independent contractor.

But who the workplace bully is doesn't matter as much in the legal sense, as does the fact that he or she is creating an intimidating, offensive, abusive or hostile work environment through discriminatory workplace harassment.

Hostile Work Environment Laws

There are no Federal "hostile work environment laws" or "hostile workplace laws" named as such. Creating a hostile workplace is prohibited under certain Federal discrimination laws (listed below).

Subsequently, to be illegal under one of the laws in the eyes of the courts, a hostile work environment typically must be caused by discriminatory workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sex. Additionally, the harassment typically must be severe, recurring and pervasive.

Lastly, the victim or witnesses typically must reasonably believe that tolerating the hostile work environment is a condition of continued employment. In other words, the victim or witnesses typically must reasonably believe that they have no choice, but to endure a hostile workplace in order to keep their jobs.

Listed below are the specific Federal discrimination laws, under which it's prohibited to create a hostile work environment through discriminatory harassment, but other discrimination laws might come into play. The state in which you work might have enacted equivalent laws with even better protections.

Either the victim or witnesses may report a hostile work environment, by filing an appropriate discrimination charge directly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a state equivalent, or with either though an attorney. Attorneys often take discrimination cases on contingency.

Source:  http://employeeissues.com/hostile_work_environment.htm


Invitation to Self-Identify

An invitation by an employer extended to all employees who believe they are covered by Section 402 or 503 to identify themselves as having a disability, being a disabled veteran, a Vietnam-era veteran or other eligible veteran for purposes of making reasonable accommodation and taking affirmative action. Applicants may no longer be asked to self-identify prior to an offer of employment being extended to them by the employer.

Job Group

A division within the contractor's workforce for the purposes of analyzing the workforce for underutilization. Job grouping is done to group job titles together based on similarity of job content, pay rates and opportunities for advancement.

Labor Force

The total of all people in the civilian labor force and the armed forces.


LGBTIQQAA is a common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, and ally community.

Life Activity

For purposes of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and ADA, functions that are limited by a person's disability such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.


Men and women of those minority groups for whom EEO-1 reporting is required; that is, black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaskan Native. The term may refer to these groups in the aggregate or to an individual group.

National Origin

The country--including those that no longer exist--of one's birth or of one's ancestors' birth. "National origin" and "ethnicity" often are used interchangeably, although "ethnic group" can refer to religion or color, as well as country of one's ancestry.


Failure to follow equal employment opportunity or affirmative action guidelines and the regulations applicable to them.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

Division of the Employment Standards Administration in the Department of Labor responsible for enforcing three statutes for federal contractors and subcontractors: Executive Order No. 11246, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act. OFCCP enforces the three laws through the use of compliance reviews, complaint investigations, administrative procedures and judicial procedures.

Other Eligible Veteran

Other eligible veterans are those individuals who served on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.

Protected Class

Groups of people protected from discrimination under government regulations and laws. The specific groups are defined as women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders or American Indians/Alaskan Natives, people over 40, the disabled as defined under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and disabled veterans and Vietnam-era veterans as defined under the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act.

Qualified Disabled Person

A qualified disabled person is an individual with a disability who is capable of performing a particular job, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Qualified Disabled Veteran

A special disabled veteran who is capable of performing a particular job with or without a reasonable accommodation to his or her disability. A qualified disabled veteran is a disabled veteran capable of performing a particular job, with or without reasonable accommodation.


Race is a division of humankind with certain distinguishing characteristics in common which indicate distinctive origins.


An act of discrimination based on an ideology of racial superiority.

Reasonable Accommodation

Used in connection with affirmative action for disabled persons: Changes in the job or workplace that enable the person with a disability to perform the job for which they are otherwise qualified. Such accommodations should be such that they do not create a business hardship and may involve such actions as adjusting the physical environment, equipment, schedules or procedures.

Used in connection with discrimination based on religion: Requirement that employer grant an employee time off for religious reasons. These accommodations may be adjustments to hours or days worked or other similar actions which will make it possible for employees to fulfill their religious obligations.


An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.

In addition to the protections against retaliation that are included in all of the laws enforced by EEOC, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else's exercise of rights granted by the ADA.

There are three main terms that are used to describe retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer, employment agency, or labor organization takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.  For a definition of these terms and examples of actions considered to be retaliatory, see http://www.eeoc.gov/types/retaliation.html.  
Source: U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Federal law requiring contractors and subcontractors with contracts in excess of $10,000 to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment individuals with disabilities.


Includes all aspects of religious observance and practice and religious beliefs.

Selection Process

Any step, combination of steps or procedure used as a basis for any employment decision, including, but not limited to, informal or casual interviews, unscored application forms, paper and pencil tests, performance tests, training programs, probationary periods and physical, education and work experience requirements, as well as the decision-making process used in determining whether or not to hire or promote.

Sex Discrimination

Discriminatory or disparate treatment of persons based on their gender.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

Source: U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. http://www.eeoc.gov/types/sexual_harassment.html

Systemic Discrimination

Employment policies or practices that serve to differentiate or to perpetuate a differentiation in terms or conditions of employment of applicants or employees because of their status as members of a particular group. Such policies or practices may or may not be fair and neutral on their face, and intent to discriminate may or may not be involved. Systemic discrimination, sometimes called class discrimination or a pattern or practice of discrimination, concerns a recurring practice or continuing policy rather than an isolated act of discrimination.


Having materially fewer minorities or women in a particular job group than reasonably would be expected based on their availability in the community.

Unlawful Employment Practice

Any policy or practice that has discriminatory intent or effect and cannot be shown to be essential to the successful performance of the job in question.

Veterans Employment Opportunities Act

This statute extended the affirmative action and reporting responsibilities of federal contractors and subcontractors, which previously protected veterans of the Vietnam era and special disabled veterans, to include any other U. S. veteran who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized. It also raised the reporting threshold from $10,000 to $25,000 and added the requirement to report the maximum and minimum number of persons employed on the VETS-100 report.

Vietnam-Era Veteran

A person who served on active duty for more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge. Also, a person who was discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability if any part of such active duty was performed between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975.

Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974

Federal law requiring federal contractors or subcontractors with contracts of $10,000 or more to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment disabled veterans or those who served during the Vietnam era.


An individual, not of Hispanic origin, with origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East.

Workforce Analysis

A listing of each job title as the title appears in applicable collective bargaining agreements or payroll records ranked from the lowest paid to the highest paid within each department including department or unit supervision. For each job title, the following information must be given: the total number of male and female employees; the total number of male and female employees who are Black (not Hispanic), Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native and Asian/Pacific Islander; and the wage rate or salary range.