What is Discrimination ?

Discrimination is unequal treatment based upon personal characteristics that are not relevant to academic abilities or job performance, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected classes.  Sexual misconduct is a form of discrimination.

The Office of Equal Opportunity is charged with receiving and investigating objectively complaints of discrimination and discriminatory harassment (on the basis of legally protected characteristics) to determine if an employee’s conduct violates the University’s Policy on Nondiscrimination, which has been constructed to provide protection in conjunction with current state and federal laws. We are also responsible for developing and implementing the University’s nondiscrimination and affirmative action policies, procedures, and programs and offering consultation, advocacy and education to the University community on the same.


 What is harassment?  Harassment is offensive conduct directed at an individual or group that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating a hostile environment. Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts, name-calling, graphic or written statements (including the use of cell phones or the Internet), or other conduct that may be humiliating or physically threatening and any other behavior that discriminates against individuals in a  protected class. The University strictly prohibits making submission to discriminatory harassment a term or condition of an individual’s employment, performance appraisal, or evaluation of academic performance. 
 What is a protected class? The protected classes are:  race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, veteran status, citizenship status, genetic information, marital status, disability, and sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, aids/HIV, domestic abuse victim, and homelessness.  Federal and State law and University policy protect these classes.  
 What is a racially hostile environment? A racially hostile environment may be created by oral, written, graphic or physical conduct related to an individual’s race, color, or national origin that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it interferes with or limits the ability of an individual to participate or benefit from the recipient’s work and/or educational programs or activities.