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Affirmative Action FAQ

What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action represents positive, good faith, specific steps taken in advertising, recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, retention and other employment processes that are designed and taken to eliminate the present effects of past discrimination against women, persons of color, protected veterans, and individuals with physical and mental disabilities in the workplace. Affirmative action seeks to maximize diversity and to redress perceived disadvantages due to overt, institutional or involuntary discrimination. It includes decisions involving hiring, promotion, reclassifications, transfers, terminations and compensation.

What is the difference between affirmative action, equal employment, and diversity?

Affirmative action seeks to ensure that qualified applicants and employees receive an equal employment opportunity. Equal Employment prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, national origin, sex, disability or religion. Diversity seeks to celebrate and include those human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is an act, or series of acts that adversely affect the employment opportunities of one or more individuals because of his, her, or their race, color, religion, sex, age, veteran status, national origin, disability, or any other factor that under state or federal laws may not be considered as a basis for employment. Unlawful discrimination may be intentional or unintentional. UAMS will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), status as a protected veteran, sex, age, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation as a criterion in deciding against any individual in matters of admission, placement, transfer, hiring, dismissal, compensation, fringe benefits, training, tuition assistance and other personal or educationally-related actions.

Who is a Protected Veteran?

Protected veterans include pre-JVA veterans, disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, active duty wartime or campaign badge veterans, Armed Forces service medal veterans, a person honorably discharged for a tour of active duty, other than active duty for training only, with the armed forces of the United States; or any person who has served honorably in the National Guard or reserve forces of the United States for a period of six (6) years, whether the person has retired or been discharged or not.

Who are Individuals with Physical or Mental Disabilities?

Individuals with disabilities include any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment without reference to any mitigating measures available to the person.

Who are Persons of Color?

Persons of color include Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.

What is the difference between goals and quotas?

Goals are projections an employer makes of the representation persons of color, women and protected class members are likely to achieve in positions in which they have been underutilized if the employer applies good faith efforts to assure that all aspects of the employer’s affirmative action plan are made to work.

Quotas are the hiring and promotion of a specified number or ratio of persons of color, women or protected class members. Quotas are not the same as goals. They are illegal and may only be used if ordered by a court.

I have just applied for a position at UAMS and have been asked to voluntarily disclose my race, sex, and to voluntarily self-identify my status as a protected veteran and/or a person with a disability.

If you are an applicant, this information is voluntary and is not a condition of employment. However, this information is important for affirmative action recruitment as it allows us to evaluate the extent to which our outreach and recruitment efforts are effectively reaching people of color, women, individuals with a physical or mental disability, and protected veterans.   While your decision to self-identify as a protected veteran will allow UAMS to consider you if you meet the qualifications under the Arkansas Veterans’ Preference Law, other demographic information is not given to the hiring department, is confidential, and is kept in the Office of Human Resources for statistical purposes.

I just accepted a position at UAMS and have been asked for race and sex information. Do I have to give it?

Yes. UAMS is a federal contractor. UAMS is required to report information about its workforce, including race and sex data, to the federal government. You must provide this information after you are hired. This information is determined by self-identification. That is, you decide which of the five racial categories best describes you. The federal government has provided guidelines on who it sees as being part of each category. This information is used for statistical reporting to the federal government, accreditation bodies, grant-awarding agencies, as well as for internal benchmarking and review.

I just accepted a position at UAMS and have been asked to voluntarily self-identify my status as an individual with a physical or mental disability.  Do I have to share this information?

No.  As a federal contractor, UAMS invites all employees to voluntarily self-identify their status as an individual with a physical or mental disability on a regular basis.  The status of employees may change and a regular invitation to self-identify provides employees a way to self-identify for the first time, or to change their previously reported status.   We believe providing a regular invitation will result in improved data collection as we assess our employment practices.       

I just accepted a position at UAMS and have been asked to voluntarily self-identify my status as protected veteran.  Do I have to share this information?

No.  As a federal contractor, UAMS invites all employees to voluntarily self-identify their status as a protected veteran on a regular basis.

However, please note that UAMS complies with Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-3-302, Arkansas Veteran’s Preference Law and the Office of Personnel Management Policy No. 30.20, which require state agencies and institutions of higher education to give preferences to certain qualified veterans, their spouses, or the surviving spouse of a deceased qualified veteran on questions of hiring, promotion, and retention of employees.

I would like to know the race and sex of several of the candidates we are thinking of interviewing. Can you give it to me?

We cannot give that information to hiring departments. We use that information for statistical purposes only. Because it is illegal to hire on the basis of race or sex, knowing that information could create a legal liability. Additionally, applicants are told that the information is voluntary, not a condition of employment, and will not be shared with the hiring authority.

Can you give me a list of all African American and Hispanic faculty on campus?

No. Although this information is required for federal reporting purposes, it is not public information.

Is everything I tell you kept confidential?

We respect your desire for confidentiality. In most cases, however, it is necessary to share information with other people on campus strictly on a need-to-know basis. This helps to ensure a successful resolution to your situation.

I am about to advertise a vacant position in a newspaper or magazine. Do I have to put EEO/AA on the bottom of the ad?

At a minimum, you must include the following wording in the ad, “UAMS is an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer of individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.”  You may also state “UAMS is an inclusive Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer of individuals with disabilities and veterans and is committed to excellence.” We do not consider the abbreviations sufficient notice.

I am creating a publication. What wording do I need to add about accommodating people with physical or mental disabilities in order to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act?

You must make it clear that accommodations can be made for persons with disabilities. For example, you might include a statement such as “If you have a physical or mental disability and need assistance, arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs.” You must also list telephone numbers that people may call to arrange such accommodations.

Why do we need affirmative action and equal employment opportunity at UAMS?

UAMS is a federal contractor and receives millions of dollars in federal grants. As a matter of both institutional policy and its obligation as a federal government contractor, UAMS is committed to principles of diversity, inclusion and affirmative action and will comply with all affirmative action requirements in accordance with law. As stated by then Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, “Our goal is excellence. By viewing all people as the potential pool of talent, UAMS has become stronger. We treat everybody on the basis of what they do, not on the basis of stereotypes. We judge on their performance. We are fair. We won’t tolerate discrimination. UAMS is a better place because of our diversity.”

What do I need to do if I have been a victim or witnessed someone being discriminated against?

UAMS abhors and condemns all forms of bigotry and racism. Such behavior is a violation of an individual’s human rights and is also unlawful. UAMS does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), status as a protected veteran, sex, age, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

All complaints or allegations of slurs, inscriptions, jokes, or other offensive behavior based on race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), status as a protected veteran, sex, age, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation that occurs in the workplace or are related to the workplace are to be reported to the appropriate department head. Any employee, faculty member or student may also contact the Office of Human Resources should the complainant feel uncomfortable in reporting the incident to the department head.

Does support for affirmative action mean support for preferential selection procedures that favor unqualified candidates over qualified candidates?

No. Affirmative action seeks to recruit, employ and advance in employment qualified women, persons of color, persons with physical or mental disabilities and protected veterans.