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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



 

EEOC Glossary

EEOC Glossary for Small Businesses

Age Discrimination

Charge of Discrimination

Charge Process

Color Discrimination

Complaint Policy/Complaint Procedure

Disability

Disability Accommodation

Disability Discrimination

Discrimination

EEOC

EEO-1 Report

Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs)

Federal Employment Discrimination Laws

Field Office

Genetic Information

Genetic Information Discrimination

Harassment

Investigation

Liability

Mediation

National Origin Discrimination

Officer of the Day

Pay Discrimination

Position Statement

Pregnancy Discrimination

Race Discrimination

Reasonable Accommodation (Disability)

Reasonable Accommodation (Religion)

Religious Accommodation

Religious Discrimination

Retaliation

Sex Discrimination

Sexual Harassment

Small Business Liaisons

Small Business Task Force

Age Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee who is 40 years old or older less favorably because of his or her age or using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on applicants or employees who are 40 or older and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.

Charge of Discrimination: A formal employment discrimination complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA), a state or local agency responsible for enforcing state or local employment discrimination laws.

Charge Process: The process by which the EEOC handles charges of discrimination. The EEOC will notify you that a charge has been filed against your business and request an explanation for the claims in the charge (a Position Statement ) or responses to specific questions in a Request for Information. The EEOC may ask if you would like to mediate or settle the charge. If the charge is not resolved, the EEOC will continue its investigation. The EEOC will review the information obtained during the investigation to determine whether discrimination occurred. If the EEOC determines that discrimination did not occur, the EEOC will dismiss the charge and give the person who filed the charge permission to file a lawsuit. If the EEOC determines that discrimination did occur, it will invite you to conciliate the charge. If conciliation is unsuccessful, the EEOC may file a lawsuit or give the person who filed the charge permission to file a lawsuit.

Color Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because of his or her skin color, pigmentation, complexion, shade or tone. Color discrimination also includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular color and that is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business.

Complaint Policy/Complaint Procedure: A policy or procedure that informs employees how to file an internal discrimination complaint. Small businesses that have these types of policies or procedures should distribute them to employees, include them in employee handbooks and post them in the employee break room, online or in other places where employees can easily find them.

Disability: A physical or mental disorder, illness or condition (an impairment) that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record (past history) of a disability, or being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor.

Disability Accommodation: A change to the way things are normally done at work to help an applicant or employee with a disability apply for a job, perform job duties or enjoy job benefits. For example, an employer may provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf applicant, permit an employee with diabetes to take regular breaks to eat and monitor blood sugar and insulin levels, or allow an employee with cancer to rearrange her schedule around radiation or chemotherapy treatments. You are not required to provide a disability accommodation if it would result in significant difficulty or expense, based on your resources and the operation of your business. In addition, you are not required to provide a disability accommodation that requires you to change the fundamental duties of a job, lower production or performance standards or tolerate misconduct.

Disability Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because the person or someone the person associates with has a disability, had a disability in the past or is believed to have a disability. Disability discrimination also includes failing to provide a disability accommodation to an applicant or employee, unless the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense, changing fundamental job duties, lowering production or performance standards or tolerating misconduct. In addition, disability discrimination includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on an applicant or employee with a disability or a group of applicants or employees with disabilities and that does not reflect what is actually required to do the job.

Discrimination: Treating a person or a group of people less favorably. Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 years old or older), genetic information (including family medical history) or in retaliation for filing a charge or complaint of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit) or opposing discrimination.

EEOC: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces the federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 years old or older) and genetic information (including family medical history). The laws enforced by the EEOC also prohibit retaliation. The EEOC is a bipartisan Commission led by five Commissioners who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The EEOC has a headquarters office in Washington, D.C. and 53 field offices throughout the United States.

EEO-1 Report: A government form that requests data about workforce ethnicity, race and gender. Employers with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and at least $50,000 in government contracts are required to complete and submit the EEO-1 form to the EEOC and the Department of Labor every year.

Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs): State and local agencies responsible for enforcing state and local employment discrimination laws.

Federal Employment Discrimination Laws: Laws that apply in every state that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) and genetic information (including family medical history). These laws also prohibit retaliation. These laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

Field Office: One of the EEOC's 53 offices located across the country. Field offices accept, investigate, resolve and litigate charges of employment discrimination . Field offices also conduct outreach and training.

Genetic Information: Information about an applicant's, employee's or former employee's genetic tests; a family member's genetic tests; family medical history; requests for, or receipt of, genetic services; or genetic information about a fetus or an embryo.

Genetic Information Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because of genetic information (including family medical history). For example, an employer may not refuse to hire an applicant because cancer runs in her family.

Harassment: Unwelcome conduct that is so frequent or severe that it objectively creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in a negative employment action (such as being fired or demoted). For example, assault, threats, insults or offensive graffiti may be illegal harassment. Federal law prohibits harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 years old or older) or genetic information (including family medical history).

Investigation: The process by which an employer and/or the EEOC determine whether illegal discrimination has occurred. The employer and/or the EEOC may interview the applicant, employee or former employee who complained about discrimination; the person or people allegedly responsible for the discrimination; and other employees who may have seen or have information about the alleged discrimination. The employer and/or the EEOC may also request and review relevant documents, such as policies, applications, interview notes or employee files.

Liability: Legal responsibility for illegal activity, such as discrimination.

Mediation: A free, informal, confidential process to resolve disputes .

National Origin Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because the person or someone the person associates with comes from a particular country, has a foreign accent, appears to have a particular ethnic background. National origin discrimination also includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular national origin and that is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business.

Officer of the Day: EEOC staff available to provide information about the laws enforced by the EEOC. Conversations with Officers of the Day will not be shared with EEOC staff who investigate, resolve, and litigate charges of discrimination.

Pay Discrimination: Paying an employee or a group of employees less based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (including family medical history). Pay discrimination also includes paying an employee or group of employees less because they filed a discrimination charge or complaint or participated in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Position Statement: An employer's response to a charge of discrimination, providing specific, factual explanations for the claims in the charge.

Pregnancy Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because of pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnancy discrimination also includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions and that is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business.

Race Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because the person or someone the person associates with is a particular race or has personal characteristics associated with a particular race. Race discrimination also includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race and that is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business.

Reasonable Accommodation (Disability): See Disability Accommodation

Reasonable Accommodation (Religion): See Religious Accommodation

Religious Accommodation: A change to the way things are normally done at work to allow an applicant or employee to practice or observe his or her religion. For example, a small business may permit an employee to swap shifts with a colleague so he can observe a religious holiday or grant an exception to a dress or grooming policy that conflicts with an employee's religious beliefs or practices. You are not required to provide religious accommodations that impose more than minimal costs or disruptions for your business. In addition, you are not required to provide a religious accommodation if it would conflict with another law or regulation.

Religious Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because of his or her religious beliefs or association with a person of a particular religion. Religious discrimination also includes failing to provide a religious accommodation, unless the accommodation would impose more than minimal costs or disruptions for your business. In addition, religious discrimination includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on members of a particular religion and that is not job related and necessary to the operation of the business.

Retaliation: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because he or she made an internal discrimination complaint, filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC or another agency, participated in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit (for example, served as a witness), or opposed discrimination (for example, threatened to file a charge of discrimination). All of the laws enforced by the EEOC prohibit retaliation.

Sex Discrimination: Treating an applicant, employee or former employee less favorably because of his or her sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity) or because of his or her connection with an organization or group that is associated with people of a particular sex. Sex discrimination also includes using an employment policy or practice that has a negative effect on men or women and that is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business.

Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome conduct or comments based on sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity) that are so frequent or severe that they objectively create a hostile or offensive work environment or result in a negative employment action (such as being fired or demoted). Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, offensive comments about men or women (including comments that are not sexual in nature) or other offensive conduct based on sex.

Small Business Liaisons: EEOC staff who are responsible for helping small businesses understand and comply with federal employment discrimination laws. The Small Business Liaisons, who are located in EEOC field offices across the country, provide information about employment discrimination, answer questions and conduct outreach and training for small businesses. Conversations with Small Business Liaisons will not be shared with EEOC staff who investigate, resolve, and litigate charges of discrimination.

Small Business Task Force: An EEOC work group, led by Commissioner Constance S. Barker, created to help small businesses understand and comply with federal employment discrimination laws.