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Equity Program: Discrimination Prevention and Response

Overview of Equity Programs, Agencies and Resources
Overview of Equity Program
Equity Program: Discrimination Prevention, Detection and Response

William & Mary expects all members of the community to treat other people with dignity and respect.  Consistent with the Code of Ethics, the Equity Program strives to ensure that there is an equitable working and learning environments for all faculty, staff and students.   This is accomplished through:

  • Prevention
    • Developing non-discrimination and affirmative action policies and procedures
    • Training to the university community on these expectations
  • Detection
    • Encouraging reporting of incidents of discrimination or discriminatory harassment
  • Response
    • Objectively investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment to determine if employee conduct violates the non-discrimination policies
    • Providing protection from retaliation for those who make reports of any misconduct, including discrimination and harassment


W&M & Equity Diversity Infrastructure 

The main policy for ensuring equity is the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, Retaliation, and Sexual Misconduct. Other policies that are important to the Equity Program include:   

Complaint Procedures

Employee Discrimination Complaint Procedure

Student Discrimination Complaint Procedure

Discrimination, Harassment, Investigation Process - Flow Chart

Employee Process

Student Process

External Enforcement Agencies

The Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) is the central human resource (HR) agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia. DHRM promulgates and provides guidance on important personnel policies, particularly policies applying to classified and operational employees. DHRM's policy library is available online.  DHRM also has two offices that handle discrimination complaints.  

  • The Office of Equal Employment Services (OEES) enforces the Governor's Executive Order, which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran's status, political affiliation, or disability.  OEES's brochure including information on filing a complaint is available online.
  • The Office of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR) processes a wide range of workplace disputes, through mediation and a grievance process.  This process may be used instead of the OEES process. Information about these processes is available on DHRM's website.
  • The Ooffice of Inspector General (OIG) protects Federal civilian employees who make disclosures to the office of special counsel (OSC) or an OIG from retaliation. Commonwealth of Virginia Notice: Whistle Blower Protection Act (pdf). A whistle blower who makes a good faith report of wrongdoing, fraud or abuse is protected under § 2.2-3011 of the Whistle Blower Protection Act. A good faith report is a statement or testimony made truthfully and in good conscience, without ill intent or malice and with supporting evidence that a wrongdoing, fraud or abuse has occurred. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC enforces

  • Titles VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race and national origin-based discrimination
  • Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race, color, national original, sex, or religion-based discrimination,
  • certain provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities, 
  • the Equal Pay Act,
  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and
  • other certain federal discrimination laws applicable to employees.  

Employees and applicants for employment may file complaints with the EEOC.  The EEOC provides information about filing a charge with the Norfolk field office online. Information about the Richmond field office is available online. The EEOC also provides an online assessment, which can be used to help people decide if the EEOC is the correct agency to assist them.

The EEOC also provides guidance on the various types of discrimination on its website.  

Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education

The federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education provides guidance and investigates student complaints regarding certain federal discrimination laws including:  

  • Titles VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race and national origin-based discrimination
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified students with disabilities and require reasonable accommodation to be made for students or applicants with disabilities,
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination,
  • the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which applies to age discrimination of students. 

Complaints may be filed by anyone who believes that William & Mary has discriminated against a student on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age.  Access the online complaint form

OCR provides guidance on various discrimination topics in its online reading room.  

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs 

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is the federal agency that ensures that all employers who contract with the federal government -- including William & Mary -- follow non-discrimination laws in their employment practices.  This Office is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor.  Specifically, OFCCP enforces

  • Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of disability and also requires affirmative actions steps to hire, retain, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities.  
  • VEVRAA, or the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended, which prohibits discrimination against specified categories of veterans and requires affirmable action steps to hire, retain, and promote covered veterans.
  • Executive Order 11246, which prohibits discrimination and requires affirmative action to ensure that all employment actions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.  (President Obama amended Executive Order 11246 on July 21, 2014, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.)

People who believe that they have been discriminated against in hiring or employment, by William & Mary, may file a complaint with OFCCP.  According to OFCCP's website, "OFCCP keeps for investigation discrimination complaints that involve groups of people or indicate that the employer engaged in a pattern of discrimination. If your complaint of discrimination is based on race, sex, color, religion, national original, and you are the only victim, OFCCP will normally refer your complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)."

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) 

The Civil Rights Division of DOJ enforces: 

  • laws providing equal opportunity for people with disabilities, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Executive Order 12250.  
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion in public universities (such as William & Mary), and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibiting sex-based discrimination. These activities are performed by the Educational Opportunities Section of DOJ's Civil Rights Division.  

DOJ provides online information about how to file a complaint regarding a potential civil rights violation. According to this website, employees who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of their race, sex, color, religion or national origin "should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." Similarly, people who believe they have been denied employment on one of these bases are also directed to contact the EEOC


This page last updated August 2020