Office of Diversity, Equity, and AccessUniversity of Illinois
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Types of Discrimination/Protected Classes

Below are the types of discrimination prohibited by federal law, Illinois law and/or University policies. Individuals who seek to bring a claim of discrimination or harassment must belong to a class protected by law.

Age:

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination based on age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 does not cover employment discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

The Office for Civil Rights enforces the Age Discrimination Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Citizenship or Immigration Status:

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit discrimination based upon an individual's citizenship or immigration status. U.S. citizens, recent permanent residents, temporary residents, asylees and refugees are protected from citizenship status discrimination. IRCA prohibits employers from hiring only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents unless required to do so by law, regulation or government contract.

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) enforces the anti-discrimination provision of IRCA.

Color:

Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion. Race/color discrimination also can involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to (or associated with) a person of a certain race or color or because of a person’s connection with a race-based organization or group, or an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain color. Title VI and Title VII make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of color.

The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title VI and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.

Disability:

There are two federal laws that protect persons with disabilities – The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)/Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA, formerly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)) .

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability.  Any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance is subject to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The ADA/ADAAA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment (Title I), State and local government (Title II), public transportation (Title II), public accommodations and commercial facilities (Title III), and telecommunications (Title IV).

To be protected by the ADA/ADAAA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA/ADAAA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

Requirements common to these regulations include reasonable accommodation for employees and students with disabilities; program accessibility; effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and accessible new construction and alterations.

The Office for Civil Rights enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the ADA/ADAAA, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title I of the ADA/ADAAA.

Genetic Information:

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts employers and other entities covered by Title II from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.

Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about family medical history. Family medical history is included in the definition of genetic information because it is often used to determine whether someone has an increased risk of getting a disease, disorder, or condition in the future. Genetic information also includes an individual's request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or the participation in clinical research that includes genetic services by the individual or a family member of the individual, and the genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or by a pregnant woman who is a family member of the individual and the genetic information of any embryo legally held by the individual or family member using an assisted reproductive technology.

The EEOC enforces Title II of GINA.

National Origin:

Title VI and Title VII make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of national origin. National origin discrimination involves treating people unfavorably because of their place of birth, country of origin, ethnicity, ancestry, native language, accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).

National origin discrimination also can involve treating people unfavorably because they are married to (or associated with) a person of a certain national origin or because of their connection with an ethnic organization or group.

The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title VI and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.

Pregnancy:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy. The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 , thus making discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Title IX prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. Title IX also prohibits a school from applying any rule related to a student’s parental, family, or marital status that treats students differently based on their sex. Under Title IX, pregnant students must be afforded the same opportunities to participate in all aspects of an educational program.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII and the Office for Civil Rights enforces Title IX.

Accommodations:

  • Students: A student’s absence(s) because of pregnancy or childbirth must be excused for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary. Instructors must allow pregnant students to make up work and attendance or participation credit missed due to absences related to the pregnancy or childbirth. When a student returns to school, she must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before her medical leave began. Instructors must provide pregnant students with the same special accommodations it provides to students with temporary medical conditions (e.g. independent study, online course access).
  • Faculty/Staff: Impairments resulting from pregnancy may be disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The University may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation (such as leave or modifications that enable an employee to perform her job) for a disability related to pregnancy, absent undue hardship. 

FMLA:

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, a new parent (including foster and adoptive parents) may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave (unpaid, or paid if the employee has earned or accrued it) that may be used for care of the new child.  To be eligible, the employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have a specified number of employees.

Please contact Academic Human Resources, Staff Human Resources, or your college/department human resources office for questions about FMLA.

Religion:

Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of religion or lack of religious belief. Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. Employers may not treat employees more or less favorably because of their religion. Employees cannot be required to participate “or to refrain from participating “in a religious activity as a condition of employment. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.

Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group.

It is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religion. Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person's religious beliefs or practices. Title VII also prohibits workplace or job segregation based on religion (including religious garb and grooming practices), such as assigning an employee to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.

Religious Accommodations:

The law requires the University to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employing department. This means the University may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, modifications to workplace policies or practices, and leave for religious observances,. This also applies to such things as dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons. These might include, for example, wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress, or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair. It also includes an employee's observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments.

Requesting a Religious Accommodation:

When an employee or applicant needs an accommodation for religious reasons, she or he should notify ODEA. If ODEA reasonably needs more information, ODEA and the employee will engage in an interactive process to discuss the request. If it would not pose an undue hardship, the department must grant the accommodation.

For a list of major religious holy days and observances, please click here [coming soon].

Race:

Race discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Race/color discrimination also can involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to (or associated with) a person of a certain race or color or because of a person’s connection with a race-based organization or group, or an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain color. Title VI and Title VII make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race. The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title VI and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.

Sex:

Sex discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of that person's sex or gender identity.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX obligations extend to: recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics, sex-based harassment, treatment of pregnant and parenting students, discipline, single-sex education, and employment. Title IX protects any person from sex-based discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Female, male, and gender non-conforming students, faculty, and staff are protected from any sex-based discrimination, harassment or violence. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Sex discrimination also can involve treating someone less favorably because of his or her connection with an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain sex.

Discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender, lesbian, gay, or bisexual constitutes discrimination because of sex in violation of Title VII.  Individuals may bring sex discrimination claims based on adverse actions taken because of the person's non-conformance with sex-stereotypes.

It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. A harasser can be an immediate supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the University, such as a client or customer.

In addition to sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires equal payment of wages to women and men performing substantially equal work, in jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar working conditions, in the same establishment.

The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title IX and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII.

Veterans:

The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) prohibits job discrimination and requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified Vietnam era veterans, special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, and Armed Forces service medal veterans (veterans who, while on active duty, participated in a U.S. military operation for which an Armed Forces service medal was awarded).

VEVRAA is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Illinois Human Rights Act :

Types of Discrimination Protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act

  • Ancestry
  • Age: a person who is at least 40 years old
  • Arrest record: prohibits an employer from inquiring into or to using the existence of an arrest or criminal history record information ordered expunged, sealed or impounded as a basis to refuse to hire or to act with respect to any employment action
  • Color
  • Citizenship status: a born U.S. citizen; a naturalized U.S. citizen; a U.S. national; or a person born outside the United States and not a U.S. citizen who is not an unauthorized alien
  • Marital status: the legal status of being married, single, separated, divorced or widowed
  • Military status: a person's status on active duty in or status as a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, status as a current member or veteran of any reserve component of the armed forces of the United States
  • National origin: the place in which a person or one of his or her ancestors was born
  • Order of protection status: a person's status as being a person protected under an order of protection issued pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or an order of protection issued by a court of another state
  • Physical or mental disability: a determinable physical or mental characteristic of a person
  • Pregnancy: pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth
  • Race [American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White or Caucasian
  • Religion: all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief
  • Sex: male or female
  • Sexual orientation: actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person's designated sex at birth
  • Unfavorable discharge from military service: discharges from the Armed Forces of the United States, their Reserve components or any National Guard or Naval Militia which are classified as RE-3 or the equivalent thereof, but does not include those characterized "Dishonorable”.