Frequently Asked Questions
Who does the Office of Social Equity serve?
The Office of Social Equity serves all students, staff, and faculty at the University.
Do I have to file a complaint in order to talk with someone in the Office of Social Equity?
NO. We are available to consult on issues of concern or just to listen. Contacts with our office are handled in a confidential manner.
Is discrimination a serious problem at California University of Pennsylvania?
The University, as a large institution with more than 700+ employees and more than 8,000 students, does receive reports each year alleging unfair treatment based on race, gender, disability, national origin, and other protected class membership. An individual alleging illegal discrimination has the responsibility to report the behavior and to provide sufficient evidence of illegal conduct to sustain a complaint of discrimination under either Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (employees), or Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (students). The Office of Social Equity takes all complaints seriously and will conduct an independent fact finding investigation to determine if the complaint has merit.
What does a "hostile work environment" mean?
A hostile work environment is one in which certain behaviors may be occurring that interfere with an individual's ability to work effectively. The behaviors may be verbal, non-verbal, and/or physical, which may be hurtful to someone on the basis of gender, national origin, religion, race, disability, and/or veteran status. All employees have the right to work in an environment free from harassment. All supervisors and managers have the responsibility to ensure that work environments are free from harassment and therefore must take all complaints seriously.
Why is sexual harassment training now mandatory for all employees?
As an employer, the University has an affirmative responsibility to ensure that all employees are made aware of their right to work in an environment free from harassment and recognize their responsibility to avoid engaging in verbal, non-verbal, and/or physical behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an employer may be held strictly liable in cases in which a supervisor did not properly respond to a report of possible harassment, or when a supervisor or individual in a position of power (or authority over an employee or student) has engaged in prohibited conduct. Sexual harassment is illegal and prohibited conduct under PASSHE and University policy.
When are sexual harassment workshops offered?
Sexual harassment workshops are offered upon request and are part of the routine training schedule. Department workshops may be scheduled for groups by calling the Office of Social Equity (724) 938-4014 to set up a training workshop.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how does it apply to me?
The ADA is a federal law that is designed to assist individuals with disabilities obtain and retain employment. An employer must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities to enable them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Most accommodations are easily arranged and are not expensive to provide.
Why do I have to conduct a search to fill a vacant position?
As a federal contractor, defined as any institution that receives more than $50,000 per year and has more than 50 employees, the University is required to comply with all regulations implementing equal opportunity and affirmative action in the University's hiring practices. This requires conducting good faith professional searches and classified employee recruitments to ensure that all qualified individuals are afforded equal opportunity to be considered for employment at the University.
Does affirmative action mean that women and minorities are given an advantage in the hiring process?
No. Equal opportunity requires that all hiring practice be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner. Affirmative action, under Executive Order #11246 (1965) and other federal laws, requires that adequate outreach and recruitment efforts be made to attract qualified individuals in order to have a diverse applicant pool. Affirmative action also means ensuring that women and minority employees are afforded equal treatment in the workplace, including access to training and promotion opportunities.
What are the responsibilities of the Social Equity Office regarding EEO/AA?
- Receiving and processing complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender, age, disability, veteran status, and/or sexual orientation.
- Conducting campus wide training programs on sexual harassment.
- Serving as a resource office in resolving employee-management conflict and information on University policies and procedures.
- Serving as liaison for the University with state and federal administrative agencies charged with responsibility for enforcing equal opportunity, affirmative action, and non-discrimination.