Laws & Definitions

Federal Laws

Major federal laws covering affirmative action, equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment include:

Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the EPA.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education are covered by Title VI. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title VI.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, national origin and religion. It also is unlawful under the Act for an employer to take retaliatory action against any individual for opposing employment practices made unlawful by Title VII or for filing a discrimination charge or for testifying or assisting or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under Title VII.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII against private employers and the Employment Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice enforces Title VII against state and local government employers.

Executive Order 11246 requires certain government contractors to engage in affirmative action and to not discriminate based on race, sex, or national origin. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (U.S. Department of Labor) is the agency charged with enforcing the EO11246 and ensuring that federal contractors are in compliance.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967(ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the ADEA.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and extends to employment and admission to institutions that receive Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title IX.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects people from discrimination in admission, employment, treatment or access based on disability in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title VI.

Age Discrimination Act of 1975 protects people from discrimination based on age in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing ADA of 1975.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by employers with 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office for Civil Rights are the agencies assigned to enforce Title I of the ADA.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, including public colleges and universities whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. The Office for Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education), is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing Title II of the ADA.

Civil Rights Act of 1991(CRA) provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the law enforcement agency charged with enforcing the CRA of 1991.

State Laws

Major state laws covering affirmative action, equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment include:

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (1976) of the State of Michigan prohibits discrimination practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is the agency assigned to handle complaints of discrimination.

Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act of 1976 provides individuals “the opportunity to obtain employment, housing, and other real estate and full and equal utilization of public accommodations, public services, and educational facilities without discrimination because of a disability is guaranteed by this act and is a civil right.”

Affirmative Action and Diversity Terms and Concepts

The following terms and concepts guide University compliance with and are derived from federal and state laws and regulations on equal opportunity, affirmative action, and nondiscrimination.

Affirmative Action
Affirmative action pertains to efforts undertaken consistent with applicable law to expand employment opportunity for members of a particular race, sex (including gender identity), or ethnic group previously denied employment opportunities.

Availability
Availability analysis estimates the percentages of minorities and women available for employment in each identified job group. Persons available are those interested and qualified to perform the work at hand during the upcoming Affirmative Action Plan year.

Discrimination
The word discrimination is often used to mean illegal discriminatory acts. Discrimination simply means noticing the differences between things or people that are otherwise alike, and making decisions based on those differences. Discrimination in employment is differential treatment of a person by category, class or group rather than objective treatment on the basis of merit. Under equal employment opportunity law, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity), age, familial status, marital status, height, weight, veteran status, or on the basis of disability. Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional.

Equal Employment Opportunity
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is not a guarantee of employment for anyone. Under EEO law, only job-related factors can be used to determine if an individual is qualified for a particular job. Ideally, EEO laws and affirmative action programs combine to achieve equal employment opportunities.

Persons with Disabilities
In accordance with disability law, a person with disability is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Underutilization
Underutilization is having fewer minorities or women in a particular group than would reasonably be expected by their availability.

Race/Ethnic/Definitions

American Indian or Alaskan Native (Not Hispanic or Latino): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, South America (including Central America), and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. 

Asian (Not Hispanic or Latino) A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (Not Hispanic or Latino):  A person having origins in any of the peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

Black or African American (Not Hispanic or Latino): A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

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

White (Not Hispanic or Latino): A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.