Equity Issues

"Equity" means fairness.

Within a university setting, an equity issue could arise from unlawful or impermissible harassment or discrimination of an Appalachian student or employee based on that person's membership in one or more protected classes. Protected classes can be divided generally into four groups. Most people belong to at least five protected classes and it is possible for an individual to belong to all of them.

Category I: Biology, Heredity and Genetics

  • Race: a local, geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically physical characteristics; any group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality or geographical distribution
  • Color: regarding the complexion of a person's skin
  • National Origin: characteristic of the people of a nation; of or relating to ancestral beginnings who share a common language, culture, ancestry, and/or other similar social characteristics
  • Sex: the condition or character of being biologically male or female
  • Age: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older
  • Disability: a physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these that creates a physical or mental impairment
  • Genetic information: an individual's genetic test results and the genetic test results of an individual's family members, as well disclosure of the manifestation of disease or disorder in an individual's family medical history
  • Sexual orientation: an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction to another person
  • Gender Identity: one's self-identification or inner sense of themselves as male, female or gender non-conforming, as opposed to one's anatomical sex at birth.

Category II: Basic Rights and Freedoms

  • Religion: the expression of one's belief in and/or reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and/or governor of the universe; or lack thereof
  • Gender Expression: the outward manifestation of one's self-identification or inner sense of themselves as male, female or gender non-conforming, as opposed to one's anatomical sex at birth.

Note: gender identity and gender expression may be different and therefore the expression may not correspond with the identity.

Category III: Group Memberships

  • Veteran: a person who has served or is serving in the armed forces, and has direct exposure to acts of military conflict and has been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • Political affiliation: association with a particular political party such as Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, Tea, etc.

Category IV: Retaliation

  • Retaliation: adverse action against an individual who filed a complaint about or otherwise opposed harassment or other forms of discrimination, or provided information relative to a complaint, or was involved in the complaint in any way.

What are equity issues?

  • More favorable considerations for men than for women in position upgrades, or promotion, tenure and salary negotiations;
  • The refusal of a faculty member to grant a student the two excused absences per semester (covered under the Religious Observances Policy) in order to celebrate the high holy days of their religion;
  • A staff supervisor beginning the shift with organized prayer of any religious tradition in a state-supported workplace;
  • A faculty member, teaching assistant, or staff supervisor engaging in an intimate relationship with a student whose educational or employment prospects they influence in any way;
  • Unwanted, unwelcome advances of a sexual nature.