What Supervisors Need to Know about Discrimination Reference Guide

What Supervisors Need to
Know about Discrimination
Reference Guide
Office of Human Resources
Consulting Services
433 Archer House
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Workshop Objectives
Workshop participants will be able to:
• Define discrimination and identify forms of discrimination;
• Know and explain personal liability and Ohio State's institutional responsibilities;
• Describe actions a manager/supervisor can take to prevent discrimination; and
• Take affirmative steps to address inappropriate and or discriminatory behavior.
Workshop Agenda
1. Introduction – why this topic is so important
2. Definitions
3. Legal framework and case studies
4. Employer liability
5. Supervisor responsibilities
6. Resources and additional training opportunities
Page 2 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Prejudice = A prejudgment based on membership in a category; an inflexible
generalization that is felt or expressed.
Discrimination = To distinguish by class or category without regard to individual merit;
show impermissible preference or prejudice. There are two types of discrimination:
disparate treatment and disparate impact.
Disparate Treatment = An employee
suffers less favorable treatment than
others because of protected status.
Disparate Impact = An employment
policy adversely impacts persons in a
protected class.
Direct discrimination
Unequal treatment
Prejudiced actions
Different standards for different
Indirect discrimination
Unequal consequences or results
Neutral actions
Same standards but different
Harassment = Verbal or physical conduct which results in a hostile, offensive or
intimidating work environment, unreasonably interferes with work performance, or
otherwise adversely affects employment opportunities.
Harassment has been defined in case law as a form of discrimination.
Page 3 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Definitions Continued
Protected status = Members of a particular group covered by state or federal antidiscrimination laws. The protected categories are:
• Sex
• National origin
• Disability/handicap
Additional protected classifications include military status, religion, pregnancy and
sexual orientation. The University’s Non-Discrimination Policy 1.10, prohibits
discrimination against any individual for reasons of sexual orientation.
When an adverse employment action is taken based upon the employee’s protected
status, discrimination has occurred.
Equal Employment Opportunity = All tangible employment actions must be job and
business related. It is illegal for employers to make employment decisions based on an
applicant’s or employee’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age
military/veteran’s status or disability.
Ohio State's Non-Discrimination Policy = Incorporates all of the above protected classes
into its Non-Discrimination policy and also extends this protection to sexual orientation.
Page 4 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Legal Framework Precluding Discrimination
Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964
Purpose –
To prohibit employment discrimination or segregation based on race, color, national
origin, religion and gender in all conditions of employment.
General provisions –
• Prohibits sexual harassment and harassment based on other protected categories.
• Makes it illegal to discriminate because of pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions.
• Provides equal opportunity to participate in training programs and opportunities for
• Prohibits compensation practices that may be discriminatory, including extra pay
plans, leave policies, maternity leaves and pension policies.
• The employer’s best defense is making decisions based on seniority, merit or
performance systems that measure quality and/or quantity of work.
Exceptions – The following very narrow exceptions exist:
• Work related requirements (i.e. lifting requirements for firefighters).
• Bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ); (i.e. female officer to search female
students) – “reasonably necessary to the normal operations of the business.” Very
narrow exception that is carefully scrutinized.
• Seniority systems.
• Preferential quota systems - very limited and defined conditions, temporary in nature.
Legal Test to Prove Discrimination: McDonnell-Douglas/Burdine Balancing
Prima Facie Case – Presumption of discrimination based on • The applicant/employee is a member of protected class.
• The applicant/employee is a qualified for job/successfully performing job
• An adverse employment action has been made.
• Another employee who is not a member of a protected class is treated better.
Legitimate Business Reason The employer must come forward with a legitimate, business justification for the adverse
employment action.
Page 5 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Proof of Pretext • The applicant/employee must present evidence that the employer’s legitimate,
business reason is false.
• The evidence presented must be more than the evidence of the prima facie case (listed
Legal Test to Prove Harassment
• Harassment must be sufficiently severe and pervasive as to alter the terms and
conditions of employment.
• Evidence is evaluated from the point of view of the “reasonable person.”
• If the challenged conduct would not substantially affect the work or academic
environment of a reasonable person, no violation is found.
Federal and state anti-discrimination laws protect employees from retaliation for
opposing discriminatory employment practices or for filing charges, testifying, or for in
any other way participating in proceedings under the laws.
What is Retaliation?
Any adverse employment action taken as a direct result of an individual's opposition to
illegal employment practices or participation in formal investigations and other
proceedings is prohibited as retaliation. The Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission takes the position that a retaliatory act violates the anti-discrimination laws
if it is “reasonably likely to deter protected activity.” Some examples of retaliatory
actions include:
Demotions, terminations, loss of benefits and/or compensation.
Harassment by supervisor or employees.
Supervisors or co-workers creating and permitting a hostile work environment.
Taking away normal work assignments or significantly reducing material
• Making adverse statements to prospective employers.
• Issuing unjustified poor evaluations and reports.
• Altering employee's work schedule.
Page 6 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Managers and supervisors must ensure that employees who have engaged in activity
protected under federal or state law are treated the same way as others. Harsher treatment
will raise the inference that retaliation has taken place. The Human Resource
Professional at the Unit must address complaints based on retaliation or refer them to the
Office of Human Resources, Consulting Services. Once the investigation is concluded
and findings and recommendations are issued, it is appropriate to monitor the treatment
of the employees who complained to ensure that further adverse actions are not
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 1967
What the law prohibits • Discrimination against individuals age 40 and older;
• Mandatory retirement based on age; and
• Limiting or classifying employees in a way that adversely affects their status because
of age (i.e. discontinuing pension accruals after age 65).
Exceptions to ADEA –
Genuine seniority or benefit plan;
Discipline or firing for good cause;
Top executive or policy maker – if he/she is 65 years old and is entitled to receive cosponsored retirement benefits of at least $44,000/annually.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990
What is prohibited –
• Discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability because of the
• Protection provided under the ADA encompasses all facets of employment including
access to training and career development.
Definitions –
Disability = individual has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one
or more major life activities, has a record of impairment or is regarded by others as
impaired. Impairments include not only limitations to major life activities but also
general conditions controlled by medications i.e., epilepsy, depression, etc.
Qualified individual with a disability = a person who can perform the essential functions
of the job with or without an accommodation.
Page 7 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Major Life Activity = are basic activities the average person in the general population can
perform with little or no difficulty, including: caring for one's self, performing manual
tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
Substantial Limitation = an impairment is a disability only if it substantially limits a
major life activity. The nature and severity of the impairment, its duration, and its
permanent or long-term impact are factors to be considered in determining whether a
disability is substantially limiting.
Essential function = primary job duty that a qualified individual must be able to perform
with or without an accommodation. A function may be considered essential because it is
required in a job or because it is highly specialized.
Reasonable accommodation = modifying or adjusting a job application process, a work
environment or the circumstances under which a job is usually performed to enable a
qualified individual with a disability to be considered for the job. Examples of
reasonable accommodations include: readers, ramps, altering physical facilities such as
doors, drinking fountains, counters, providing alternate formats and devices, etc.
Managing accommodations –
The supervisor should consider the following factors when managing accommodations:
The employee’s needs and desires;
The employee’s abilities and limitations in performing a specific job;
The nature of the business and the job;
The employer’s resources and options; and
The extent of the hardship on the employing unit.
Identifying a reasonable accommodation is an interactive process that includes:
• Identifying barriers for performance of essential job functions;
• Identifying possible accommodations;
• Assessing the reasonableness of the accommodation – to what extent is the employer
responsible? What is the hardship to the employer?
• Choosing the most appropriate accommodation.
Page 8 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Accommodations are not exclusive to individuals with physical or mental disabilities.
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees religious freedom and Title VII
prohibits discrimination in all aspects of employment when an individual chooses to
exercise that Constitutional right. Religion is defined broadly in Title VII to include
religious observances, practices and sincerely held beliefs.
Employers must accommodate employee's religious needs, unless accommodation would
cause an undue hardship. Examples of religious accommodations involve:
• Leave = Permitting employees to take time off work for religious holidays or other
Religious observances.
• Dress and Appearance = Religious needs include dress and appearance i.e., hijab
Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act, 1974
What is prohibited – Discrimination against qualified Vietnam disabled veterans, recently
separated and other protected veterans. The Act requires employers doing business with
the Federal Government to take affirmative action to employ and advance in
employment, Vietnam era, and special disabled, recently separated, and other protected
Definitions Vietnam Era Veteran - a veteran, of the U.S. military, ground, naval, or air service, any
part of whose service during the period of August 15, 1964 through May 7, 1975, who (a)
served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days and discharged or released with
other than a dishonorable discharge, or (b) was discharged or released from active duty
by service connected disability. (Service in the Republic of Vietnam between February
28, 1961 and May 7, 1975 also covered.)
Special Disabled Veteran - a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military,
ground, naval, or air service who was discharged or released from active duty because of
a service connected disability.
Recently Separated Veteran - a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military,
ground, naval, or air service during the one year period beginning on the date of such
veteran's discharge or release from active duty.
Page 9 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Other Protected Veteran - any other veteran 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.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 1978
What is prohibited – Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related
What it requires –
• Employers to treat pregnancy the same as any other temporary disability.
• Employers to provide access to medical benefits and sick leave.
• Bottom line: It is illegal to refuse to hire, to fire, to force a woman to leave work
(constructive discharge) or to stop the accrual of seniority because she is
pregnant/gave birth to a child.
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), 1986 and amended 1990
What is prohibited – Discrimination against individuals who are not citizens but who are
authorized to work in the U.S. on the basis of national origin or citizenship.
Discrimination takes the form of exclusion due to "accent," place of birth of "foreign
What it requires –
• Employers must verify employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. within three days of
• An I-9 form must be completed verifying (a) identity and (b) right to work in the U.S.
• Employment determinations to be based upon valid business related reason rather
than national origin or citizenship. Employer will be liable only for "knowing and
intentional discrimination" or for a "pattern or practice" of intentional discrimination.
Family and Medical Leave Act
What it requires –
• Upon meeting eligibility and medical requirements, employees are entitled to 12
weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for:
Page 10 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
• the birth/adoption/foster care placement of a child,
• serious health condition of self or
• serious health condition of an immediate family member.
Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, 1978
Purpose –
• This is a procedural document that covers all aspects of the selection process,
including recruiting, testing, interviewing and performance appraisals.
• It assists employers in complying with federal regulations against discriminatory
• It enables the employer to review all selection procedures to establish if there is an
adverse impact on the hiring of any race, gender of ethnic group. Adverse impact is
when the selection rate for a protected group is less than 80% of the rate for the group
with the highest selection rate.
Ohio Revised Code Section 4112.02
Purpose The Ohio Revised Code Section 4112.02 prohibits discrimination based upon race, color,
religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age or ancestry. This section also provides for
individual supervisor liability for violations of the Code.
Employer Liability for Discrimination
• The employer is liable for discriminatory acts that lead to adverse employment
• Relief may be monetary and may require reinstatement or other equitable remedies.
Employer Liability for Harassment
The employer is strictly liable for harassment where an adverse employment action
results. Burlington Industries, Inc. V. Ellerth.
The employer may have affirmative defense to harassment where:
Page 11 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
• The employer exercises reasonable care to prevent harassment, establishes an
effective procedure for reporting harassment and acts promptly upon complaints,
• The employee unreasonably fails to use the employer’s complaint procedure.
Supervisor’s Responsibilities
• Be familiar with the laws and university policies related to discrimination.
• Establish clear standards of behavior and conduct.
• Communicate and post the University’s non-discrimination policy and sexual
harassment policy and procedures on a regular basis.
• Provide training opportunities for staff and student employees to increase awareness.
Management of Complaints
• Take every complaint seriously.
• If you receive a discrimination complaint, contact your unit's Human Resource
Professional and/or Consulting Services.
• If you receive a sexual harassment complaint, refer the case to the Unit's designated
Investigator or contact Consulting Services.
Implementing Investigatory Findings
Upon notification of the results of the investigation, you must:
• Follow appropriate university policies i.e., sexual harassment, discrimination, etc.
• Consider and balance the nature of the behavior or conduct with the appropriate level
of corrective action.
• Review past practices and disciplinary decisions to ensure consistency of application.
• Talk privately with the person to discuss implementation of the recommendations.
• Explain the impact of the behavior on the receiving party.
• Depending upon the finding, notify employee that further incidents of that nature will
not be tolerated.
• State the disciplinary consequences if the behavior continues to occur.
• Do not tolerate any discrimination or harassment, however inconsequential it seems to
you or others.
• Document your discussion and follow-up with the employee. Be factual and objective
in your documentation, as your notes constitute public record.
Page 12 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Inconclusive Cases
There will be instances where the result of the investigation is inconclusive or there is
insufficient evidence to make a finding. In such cases you should:
• Review inconclusive findings with both parties.
• Provide educational tools to ensure that the perceived behavior does not re-occur i.e.;
issue a copy of the sexual harassment policy and/or non-discrimination policy and
• Conduct random follow-ups to ensure that there are no further concerns.
• Consider implementing a program of yearly training to ensure employee compliance.
Warning Signals and Considerations for Supervisors
• Is the employee a member of a protected class?
• Are you applying policies and procedures consistently to all regardless of protected
• If applying a new practice, does it have a disparate impact upon a class of individuals
in a protected class?
• In interviews, job applications or reference checks have you asked about a person’s
• When writing a job description, does it accurately reflect the actual functions of the
job? Is it outdated?
• Are you treating similarly situated employees in protected groups differently? Why?
• Have you taken a tangible employment action that can be connected to a protected
• Have you considered providing religious or disability connected accommodations to
those that have requested it?
• Do you manage all employees’ performance regardless of protected status?
• Do you apply discipline consistently for similar offenses?
Page 13 of 14
Revised 11/2002
What Supervisors Need to Know About Discrimination
Office of Human Resources-Consulting Services
Resources for Supervisors
Office of Human Resources Consulting Services
Office of Academic Affairs (for faculty issues)
Office of Legal Affairs – Kimberly Shumate
To request a training session on sexual harassment call
Organization and Human Resource Development
For a complete listing of OSU Human Resources policies and materials such as the Guide
to Effective Searches, etc. see:
Related workshops:
Can’t We All Get Along? Managing Conflict in the Workplace
Understanding the Corrective Action Process
Understanding Family and Medical Leave
Introduction to Sexual Harassment
Americans with Disabilities Act: Keys to Access
Page 14 of 14
Revised 11/2002