The Office of Equal Opportunity And Affirmative Action or OEO/AA is a professional resource committed to developing and sustaining an educational and work environment where respect, trust, and equality of opportunity enable members of the university community to achieve their goals and objectives. The OEO/AA is able to accomplish its mission by implementing and enforcing the University’s policies on nondiscrimination in employment. The OEO/AA provides services that help create and maintain a fair and equitable work environment. Specifically, the OEO/AA enforces, and provides training about discrimination and equal opportunity University Policy 1-012, including the process for discrimination complaints Rule 1-012A, sexual misconduct complaints University Policy 1-012B, and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act Policy 5-117, and Affirmative Action.
Affirmative Action is a program created by the Federal government in 1964. It’s designed to remedy past discrimination in employment and eliminate current and future race and gender discrimination. Affirmative Action at the University of Utah promotes race and gender diversity in employment by recruiting women and minorities into the applicant pools.
No. Affirmative Action at the University of Utah does not give people an advantage in getting hired or promoted. There are no “hiring quotas” and no special treatment should ever be given for any reason unrelated to job qualifications. Only the best person for the job should be hired or promoted. These decisions should never be based on someone’s minority status, and all candidates must meet the minimum qualifications for the position.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to ensure that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination and have an equal opportunity to utilize services and resources in our society. University policy and the ADA prohibit discrimination against disabled: Staff (regardless of full-time employment status or probationary period), Faculty, Students / Athletes, Visitors, University Student Residents, and Participants in University activities. Also, in support of the ADA, the University provides for equal access to University programs and activities, and for reasonable accommodation in both academic programs and in the workplace.
Any requested modification or adjustment to job duties or schedule, or to the work environment, that enables a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities. To request an accommodation, complete the Request for Disability Accommodation Form (Spanish), available online by clicking on the link given, and submit it to the OEO/AA. If you are a student and would like to request an academic accommodation, please contact the Center for Disability Services at 581-5020.
Discrimination vs. Illegal Discrimination
Discrimination is partiality or bias in the treatment of a person or group that is unfair or illegal. Not all discrimination is illegal. One can be subject to unfair treatment that is not illegal under University policy or state or federal law. An example would be being treated unfairly because someone doesn’t like you or because of your political affiliations.Illegal discrimination is treating someone differently based on a protected class. A protected class is a group of people protected against discrimination by University policy or by State and Federal law. At the University of Utah the protected classes are: Race, Ethnicity, Color, National Origin, Age, Religion, Disability, Veteran’s Status, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Genetic Information, .
Filing a Complaint
The OEO/AA is where to go if you have a question, problem, or complaint of discrimination. There are internal and external complaint processes. In order to file an internal complaint (a complaint with the OEO/AA), you must submit a Complaint Form (English and Spanish) to the OEO/AA. There are two types of internal complaints: Alternative Resolution or Investigation.
No. Under University policy, an individual against whom protected class discrimination or sexual harassment allegations are made has the right to know what the specific allegations are and who made the allegations so that they can respond to those allegations, as they may be subject to disciplinary action if the OEO/AA finds that they violated University policy after conducting an investigation.
No, University policy and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibit discrimination against individuals who are over the age of 40 both in the academic and employment settings.
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 are subject to unwelcome and unwanted disparaging or derogatory conduct that is based on one (or more) of the nine protected classes. The conduct has to be sufficiently pervasive or severe so as to create an offensive, intimidating, threatening, or hostile environment.
University policy and State and Federal law require employers to accommodate the religious practices or observances of employees who make a request for a religious accommodation, so long as the requested accommodation does not pose an undue hardship to the employer. If you need a religious accommodation please fill out the Religious Accommodation Form or contact the OEO/AA (801-581-8365).
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.
Illegal Discrimination and 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/AA.
National Origin, Patient
No. The law requires that all healthcare providers provide interpreter services to patients with limited English proficiency. The University has a Language Assistance Program for limited English proficient patients at the University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics.
If you have a patient whose primary language is NOT English, ALWAYS:
- Inform patients of the availability of language assistance (translation) regardless of whether they bring their own interpreter, and even if it is a family member.
- If the patient would like a translator, provide language assistance to the patient at no cost to the patient; never require the patient to use family members to translate.
- If the patient prefers to use a family member, acquaintance or friend, document it in the chart.
For questions regarding contacting a translator, call Customer Service at 581-2423.
The University has a non-retaliation policy under which all individuals who initiate or participate in an OEO/AA proceeding are protected, including witnesses who cooperate with an OEO/AA proceeding or individuals who make a request for disability accommodation. If you feel as though action has been taken against you for having initiated or participated in an OEO/AA proceeding, you may file a complaint with the OEO/AA.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
It is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a University activity; Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University activity; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work, education, or living environment, or participation in a University activity.
Administrators, supervisors, and faculty members are obligated under University policy to inform the OEO/AA of any sexual harassment complaint that is made to them since the OEO/AA evaluates those concerns to determine what course of action is appropriate given the allegations that are made.
You may want to contact your Human Resources Generalist or an Employee Relations Specialist to find out what your options and rights are for resolving issues you feel are not illegal discrimination or sexual harassment.
The OEO Investigation Process
Providing evidence as a witness is an important part of an OEO investigation. The most important point for anyone being interviewed is carefully listening to the question and answering it truthfully to the best of your memory. You are not required to consider what you think the questioner might be asking or trying to prove or to assess the effect of your answer on the case.
An interview by an EO Consultant is a question and answer session that typically takes place in the OEO offices, but may occur in a conference room or other office and may also be conducted by phone. Your role is to answer the interviewer’s questions accurately.
- Answer each question honestly – tell the truth
- Listen to the Question
- Make sure you understand the question
- If you don’t remember the answer, say so
- Do not speculate or guess about an answer
- Be completely honest, truthful and accurate in each answer.
RETALIATION: If you believe that you are being subjected to retaliation for participating as a witness, be sure to inform the OEO. Retaliation may take many forms, including utilizing others who may be seeking to influence, intimidate, or harass a witness. Retaliation is strictly prohibited under university policy.