Affirmative Action

What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action is the good faith obligation all federal contractors have to abide by an equal opportunity policy and regulations. Organizations analyze their workforce to access possible underutilization of women and minorities. Organizations develop a plan of action to eliminate underutilization and make good faith efforts to execute that plan.

Federal and state employment laws prohibit discrimination against individuals who fall into certain protected classes. These protected classes include, but are not limited to: age, disabilities, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, and veteran status. Affirmative action requires organizations such as OHSU to actively promote equal opportunity and eliminate discrimination. The purpose of affirmative action in employment is to establish fair access to employment opportunities and to create a work community that is an accurate reflection of the demographics of the qualified workforce. Affirmative action does not mandate "quotas" or extending preferences to any individual based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.

Frequently asked questions

No. Federal law specifically prohibits quotas. An Affirmative Action Plan sets forth placement goals. OHSU annually reviews its workforce and compares it to census data to assess whether the workforce is underutilized for minorities and/or women. If underutilization is found, placement goals such as broader recruitment efforts, are made to correct the situation.

No. Such a statement infers that women and minorities are less qualified than white males. Affirmative action attempts to ensure that the workforce includes qualified women and minorities in proportion to their statistical availability.

AAEO serves employees, students, faculty, employment applicants, patients and vendors.

What is prohibited discrimination? Is it happening here?

In general, prohibited discrimination and harassment is any verbal, visual, physical, or any other kind of conduct that is connected with an individual based on prohibited grounds, such as race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, and impacts the terms or conditions of employment or receipt of services or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

State law, federal law, and OHSU policy set forth criteria under which one is prohibited from discriminating against or harassing another individual on the basis of (but not limited to):

  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Race/color
  • Family Medical Leave Act (use of)
  • Religion
  • Oregon Family Medical Leave Act (use of)
  • Retaliation
  • Gender
  • Sexual harassment
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation / gender expression
  • Military/reserve status
  • Veteran's status
  • National origin
  • Whistle blower
  • Worker Compensation System (use of)

Prohibited discrimination and harassment may exist in every segment of society, including academic health centers. Fear of ridicule, retaliation, guilt and a sense of hopelessness may cause victims not to report the discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

A work or learning environment is "hostile" when unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical behavior of a prohibited nature is severe or pervasive enough to unreasonably interfere with an employee's work or a student's learning, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment to a "reasonable person."

How can I find help? I think I'm being discriminated against.

OHSU encourages any individual who believes they have experienced prohibited discrimination or harassment to come forward promptly. Concerns regarding discrimination may be brought to: the manager or department head most directly concerned, excluding the person accused; any academic or administrative official of OHSU including, but not limited to, the president, a vice president, university counsel, the provost or a vice provost, a dean, a chair, the director of human resources, a director, or a manager; the Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Department; the Human Resources Department; Academic Affairs; and Patient Relations.

For more Equal Opportunity policy information, see OHSU Policy No. 03-05-030.

Prohibited discrimination issues should be referred to AAEO.

AAEO's investigations focus on prohibited discrimination and harassment. If your complaint does not involve prohibited discrimination or harassment, your complaint may be directed to:

How about these situations? What counts as prohibited discrimination and harassment?

The cause of prohibited discrimination and harassment often is an assertion of hostility or an abuse of power. Generally, people do not "invite" prohibited discrimination and harassment. Inappropriate dress or sexual behavior should be dealt with in a responsible manner.

Yes. Prohibited discrimination and harassment can take place at all levels including student-to-student and coworker-to-coworker situations.

No. The reporter, or one reporting the behavior, is not required to confront the alleged harasser. However, when a reporter is able to do so, it is often helpful to advise the alleged harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and request that it stop.

It does not matter what you intended. If your behavior is offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the one reporting the behavior, it may constitute prohibited discrimination and/or harassment.

Yes. Additionally, it is never appropriate to use OHSU resources, such as computers, to disseminate pornographic materials, jokes regarding protected classes, sexually explicit images, etc.

What do I do if I see, hear about, or experience discrimination or harassment?

Consider speaking up and voicing your objection to the offensive behavior. Lend your support to the victim and report to your manager. Report incidents of prohibited discrimination and harassment to AAEO. See more at our responding to concerns page.

In some cases, this may be appropriate. However, the manager or supervisor should contact AAEO for guidance and advice. AAEO maintains a record of prior complaints brought to its attention and is charged with tracking incidents and ensuring they are addressed. See more at our responding to concerns page.

This is a common concern. In order to stop the offensive behavior, someone needs to know it is occurring. It is best to let your manager or AAEO, know about the situation. Sometimes people do not want the harasser to get into trouble because they fear retaliation. Be assured that retaliation is strictly prohibited by OHSU policy. AAEO cannot make promises regarding the outcome of a matter as every situation is different and must to be evaluated individually. Once an investigation is complete, if the allegations are substantiated, appropriate remedial action will be taken.

You can also talk to someone confidentially about your problem: see more at our responding to concerns page.

If you are a manager, contact AAEO for assistance and do not promise confidentiality. If you are not a manager, you are encouraged to report the complaint to your manager and to AAEO. Additionally, concerns can be reported anonymously to the Integrity department hotline at 877-733-8313.

Yes. A manager can be held personally liable if he or she knew or should have known that the prohibited discrimination and/or harassment occurred and failed to take immediate and appropriate action.

Retaliation for complaining about prohibited discrimination and harassment and/or participating in an investigation process is strictly prohibited by OHSU policy. Individuals with concerns regarding retaliation should contact AAEO immediately. See AAEO policies.