What is Equal Opportunity?
Equal Opportunity is the principle that the provision of educational, employment and other important societal benefits should be allocated based on an individual's strengths and weaknesses and not on immutable traits, stereotypes or other irrelevant characteristics. In practice, Equal Opportunity policies typically ensure that people are not unfairly discriminated against because of their race, color, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, or disability. Equal Opportunity policies increasingly recognize sexual orientation and political belief or activity as protected classes.
Equal Opportunity is a matter of institutional policy and is mandated by state and federal laws.
Applicants to, and employees of, most private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies and labor organizations are protected under the following Federal laws:
Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, protects qualified applicants and employees with disabilities from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, job training, fringe benefits, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment on the basis of disability. The law also requires that covered entities provide qualified applicants and employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations that do not impose undue hardship.
You may be considered a person with a disability if you:
- presently have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits you in one or more major life activities; or
- have a record of having such an impairment; or
- are regarded as having such an impairment.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, protects applicants and employees 40 years of age or older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
In addition to sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (see above), the Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended, prohibits sex discrimination in payment of wages to women and men performing substantially equal work in the same establishment. More recently, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 bans gender discrimination in compensation decisions.
Retaliation against a person who files a charge of discrimination, participates in an investigation, or opposes an unlawful employment practice is prohibited by all these Federal laws.
Under Ohio law "It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice: For any employer, because of the race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of any person, to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment." [Title 41, Chapter 4112 Ohio Revised Code]
In addition, Ohio law prohibits discrimination in any job opening against any applicant or discharge without just cause any employee aged forty or older who is physically able to perform the duties and otherwise meets the established requirements of the job and laws pertaining to the relationship between employer and employee.
Educational Programs or Activities
Race, Color, National, Origin Sex
In addition to the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Employment discrimination is covered by Title VI if the primary objective of the financial assistance is provision of employment, or where employment discrimination causes; or may cause discrimination in providing services under such programs. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities which receive Federal assistance.
Individuals with Disabilities
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disabilities in any program or activity which receives Federal financial assistance. Discrimination is prohibited in all aspects of employment against disabled persons who, with reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of a job. If you believe you have been discriminated against in a program of any institution which receives Federal assistance, you should contact immediately the Federal agency providing such assistance.
Section 4112.022 of the Ohio Revised Code prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against individuals on account of any disability with regard to: (A) admission or assignment to any academic program, course of study, internship, or class offered by the institution; (B) permitting participation in any activity that is sponsored by the institution or that takes place on property owned, operated, or controlled by the institution; (C) the awarding of any form of financial aid or other benefits available to students; (D) admission or assignment to housing or other facilities owned, operated, or controlled by the institution; or (E) awarding of grades or granting of certificates, diplomas, or degrees offered by the institution.