Affirmative Action Details

What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action is a program required of federal contractors, like UW, to ensure applicants are evaluated without regard to their membership in a protected class.

Which groups are covered under Affirmative Action

Affirmative action prohibits contractors from making any employment decisions which factor in race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran, or other protected veterans.

What are federal contractors required to do for affirmative action?

  • Set placement goals for underrepresented groups
  • Set an annual hiring goal for protected veterans (OFCCP benchmark percentage given in March 2022 was 5.5%)
  • Endeavor to employ more individuals with disabilities (OFCCP goal for federal contractors is 7%)
  • Evaluate efforts to create diverse applicant pools including good faith efforts
  • Develop and execute action-oriented programs to address identified problems
  • Evaluate recruitment processes and standards

What is the difference between affirmative action goals and quotas?

Affirmative action goals serve as targets to measure the efficacy of efforts to recruit and diversify workforces. Goals also help indicate where hiring managers should diversify candidate pools for their job openings.

Quotas are rigid and inflexible mandates, indicating contractors are not considering candidate merit in hiring decisions. The federal government identifies quotas as a specifically impermissible action by contractors.

Affirmative action does not reward race or sex in place of merit. It is intended to ensure employers hire the most qualified people, including members of groups that previously have been subject to unlawful discrimination.

What laws and regulations require affirmative action?

The following links are to federal regulations and state laws, among others, requiring affirmative action.

Federal Affirmative Action Law and Regulations:

Washington State Law and Regulations:

Who has access to affirmative action information?

Affirmative action data are treated as confidential, kept separate from personnel files, and made available only to persons with a need to know. Summary level counts are included in required state and federal reports. The data reports for affirmative action can be seen on the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action’s webpage under Affirmative Action Reports.

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The University of Washington requests information from applicants and employees about their service in the United States military.

  • For employees who served in the United States military, the OFCCP developed an infographic for determining which category may be the best fit: Am I a protected veteran?
  • For employees who served in the United States military, but none of the VEVRAA categories linked above apply, they may want to select “I am not a protected veteran” or “I decline to disclose my veteran status.”
  • For employees who have not served in the United States military, they may want to select “Non-veteran” or “I decline to disclose my veteran status.”

Affirmative Action Resources

What UW policies protect against discrimination?

Discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, based on protected class statuses is addressed by Executive Order 31: Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action.

What resources are available for someone who feels they have been discriminated against?

Employees who believe that they have been sexually harassed or otherwise discriminated against in violation of University policy, have several options for resolving complaints. Employees are encouraged to discuss their complaint with their supervisor, or, if the supervisor is the source of the complaint, with the administrative head of their employing organization. Please refer to Administrative Policy Statement 46.3 for further information. It should be noted that complaints with UCIRO must be filed within 365 days of the incident at issue.

Students who believe they have been harassed (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment) by another student should contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life for information regarding options for addressing same.

Internal resources are available and include the following:

Federal and state agencies are also available and may be contacted:

What is discrimination under Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination, including sexual harassment based on sex in education programs or activities which receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states, in part, that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, except [in certain enumerated limited situations]. Contact the Title IX Office for more information.

Are employees who pursue a discrimination/harassment complaint protected from retaliation?

University policy prohibits retaliation against those reporting concerns regarding discrimination, cooperating with any investigation of discrimination, or participating in the complaint investigation process. An employee or student who is found to engage in retaliatory conduct is subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including dismissal.