Affirmative Action Terms

Adverse Impact

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.

Affected Class

Any group that continues to suffer the effects of past discriminatory practices. Affected class status must be determined by analysis or court decision.

Affirmative Action

Specific actions in recruitment, hiring, upgrading and other areas designed and taken for the purpose of eliminating the present effects of past discrimination, or to prevent discrimination.

Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)

The written document through which management assures that all people have equal opportunities in recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion, training, discipline and related employment areas. The plan is tailored to the employer's work force and the labor pool with the necessary skills in the relevant job market. It prescribes specific actions, goals, timetables, responsibilities and describes resources to meet identified needs. The plan is a comprehensive results-oriented program designed to achieve equal employment opportunity rather than merely to assure non-discrimination.

Ageism

Discrimination of individuals based on their age; i.e. of the elderly based on the notion that they are incapable of performing certain functions such as driving, or of the young based on the notion that they are immature and therefore incapable of performing certain tasks.

American Indian (Native American) or Alaskan Native

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, or who maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.

Annual Goal

Referred to in the goals and timetables section of the affirmative action plan, the annual goal is an annual target (annual in that it is the one-year life of the AAP) for placing underutilized groups of protected-class members in those job groups where underutilization exists.

Applicant Flow

The number of applicants applying for a particular job over a given period of time, analyzed by protected class characteristics.

Applicant Pool

All people who have applied for a particular job or group of jobs during one period of opening. The collection of candidates from whom the selection or selections for available positions may be made.

Asian or Pacific Islander

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands. This includes people from China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, American Samoa, and Vietnam.

Black (Non-Hispanic)

A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic origin).

Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ)

A qualification that is needed to be able to perform the duties of a particular job, which would otherwise be unlawful because of its discriminatory impact on one's sex, religion, national origin, etc. Examples are the requirement that an actor playing the part of a woman be a woman or that a minister of a particular religion be a member of that particular religion. The concept of BFOQ is interpreted very narrowly by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the federal courts.

Business Necessity

A legitimate business purpose that justifies an employment practice as valid and necessary for the effective achievement of the organization's objectives as well as the safe and efficient operation of the business.

Civil Rights

Personal rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution; i.e., freedom of speech, press, freedom from discrimination.

Collective Bargaining Agreement

A written contract between an employer and a labor union, for a definitive period of time, spelling out conditions of employment, wages, hours of work, rights of employees and the union, and procedures to be followed in settling disputes.

Compliance

A situation in which an agency fully meets the requirements of laws, rules and regulations and court cases which mandate nondiscrimination and affirmative action.

Disabled Individual

Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. The following are general definitions as to the meaning of 'disability': Physical or Mental Impairment means (1) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine; or (2) any mental or psychological disorder, such as retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The term 'physical or mental impairment' includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, recovering addicts and alcoholism. Major Life Activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, and receiving education or vocational training. Has a record of such an impairment means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more life functions. Is regarded as having an impairment means (1) has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but that is treated by an employer as constituting such a limitation; (2) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or (3) has none of the impairments defined above, but is treated by an employer as having such an impairment. Substantially limits means that the degree the impairment affects employability. A disabled individual who is likely to experience difficulty in securing, retaining or advancing in employment will be considered substantially limited.

Disabled Veteran

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

Illegal treatment of a person or group based on race, sex, or other protected-class status. There are two types of discrimination: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment means treating a person differently because of his or her race, sex, disability, or other protected-class status. Disparate impact, a less blatant form of discrimination, means a practice which has a greater negative effect on members of protected classes than on others.

Diversity

A situation that includes representation of multiple (ideally all) groups within a prescribed environment, such as a university or workplace. An emphasis on accepting and respecting cultural differences by recognizing that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another underlies the current usage of the term.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Where all personnel activities are conducted so as to assure equal access in all phases of the employment process. Employment decisions are based solely on the individual merit and fitness of applicants and employees related to specific jobs, without regard to race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, disabled veteran status, veteran of the Vietnam Era status, marital or citizenship status (except in those special circumstances permitted or mandated by law).

Equal Pay

To provide equal pay for men and women performing jobs requiring equal skills, effort, and responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions (as required by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 for employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, i.e., in a department store a female salesperson in the ladies' shoe department must receive pay equal to that of a male salesperson doing equal work in the men's shoe department).

Ethnic Group

A group identified on the basis of religion, color or national origin.

Ethnicity

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.

Executive Order

A regulation by the President of the United States or the chief executive of a state which has the effect of law.

Handicap

See Disabled Individual.

Hispanic

A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

Indigenous

Originating from a culture with ancient ties to the land in which a group resides.

Job Analysis

The systematic study of a job to identify work behaviors and other information relevant to the job that will enable those planning examinations or other selection devices to determine the knowledge, skills and abilities required for successful performance on the job.

Job Category

A grouping or aggregation of job classifications for purposes of analysis or official reporting. For example, officials and administrators, instructional, professional non-instructional, clerical/secretarial, technical/paraprofessional.

Minority

A person classified as black (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, or American Indian or Alaskan Native.

National Origin

This term refers not only to one's place of birth, but to an ancestor's place of birth as well.

Parity

A condition achieved in an organization when the protected class compensation of its work force is equal to that in the relevant available labor force.

Prima Facie

A legal presumption that arises from a basic showing of facts that will control a decision unless the factual showing is rebutted.

Protected Class

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.

Quota

Mandated hiring quotas (usually by head count) have no place in affirmative action compliance. They are seen as rigid and inflexible and do not foster the intent of affirmative action.

Reasonable Accommodations

The changing of environment, schedules or requirements to adapt to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified disabled applicant or employee.

Selection Process

Any measure, combination of measures, or procedures used as a basis for any employment decision; commonly consists of minimum qualifications, test(s), employment interview, and probationary period.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: Submission to conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment; or Submission to or rejection of conduct is used as a basis for an employment decision affecting the person rejecting or submitting the conduct; or The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an affected person's work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual Orientation

A private preference, a history of such a preference, or an identification with having such a preference of an individual for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

Stereotype

To categorize people based on an artificial construction of a certain group designed to impart the "essence" of that group, which homogenizes the group, effacing individuality and difference.

Underrepresentation

Fewer women or minorities in a job group than their proportion in the agency's workforce.

Underutilization

Having fewer women or minorities in the employer's workforce than could reasonably be expected based on their availability in the labor area.

Undue Hardship

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.

Veteran

A person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during a statutorily defined time of war and who was honorably discharged or was released under honorable circumstances. Armed Forces is defined as Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, including all components thereof, and the National Guard when in the service of the United States pursuant to call as provided by law on a full-time active duty basis, which does not include active duty for training purposes. The specified periods of services are: 12/07/41 - 09/02/45 World War II 06/26/50 - 01/31/55 Korean Conflict 01/01/63 - 05/07/75 Vietnam Hostilities With the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service: 07/29/45 - 09/02/45 and 06/25/50 - 07/03/52

Vietnam Era Veteran

A veteran of the Vietnam Era is a person who served on active duty for a period of 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.

White

A person with origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East who is not of Hispanic origin.

Workforce

The total number of workers actively employed in a company.

Workforce Analysis

A listing of each job title as it appears in the applicable collective bargaining agreement or payroll records, ranked from lowest to highest paid within each department or other similar organizational unit, including department or unit supervision.

Page last updated: Sep. 13, 2006