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Glossary of Terms

The following terms are related to unlawful harassment:

Age – in the context of unlawful harassment, persons qualified for protection based on “age” are defined as “persons 40 years of age or older”.

Color – the complexion of a person’s skin; usually refers only to skin color or pigmentation.

Creed – any statement or system of belief, principles or opinions.

Disability – a handicapping condition: any person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; one who has a record of such impairment; or one who is regarded as having such an impairment.

Discrimination – unequal and unlawful treatment based upon race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

Hostile Environment Harassment – unwelcome conduct that illegally interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.

National Origin – characteristic of or peculiar to the people of a nation; of or relating to ancestral beginnings.

Protected class – a group of people protected by federal or state law or by university policy; federally protected classes are race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and veteran status; additionally, the classes of creed and sexual orientation are protected by state law and SC State policy.

Protected environments – places where protection against unlawful harassment is in effect; for example, all of a university’s working and learning environments, such as offices, classrooms, residence halls, labs, off-campus conferences, and athletic environments.

Power relationship – a relationship between two people where one person holds a higher position of power or authority over the other, such as a coach and a player, a professor and a student, or a supervisor and an employee.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment – unwelcome conduct that is illegally made a condition of an individual’s employment, academic advancement, or receipt of a legitimately requested service.

Race – a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics; any group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographical distribution; mankind as a whole.

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.

Retaliation – in the context of unlawful harassment, causing a person engaged in a protected activity (such as reporting or assisting in an unlawful harassment or discrimination claim) to suffer adverse consequences.

Sex – the condition or character of being male or female; the physiological, functional, and psychological differences that distinguish the male and female.

Sexual Orientation – an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only). Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors (definition from the American Psychological Association).

Unlawful harassment – a form of unlawful discrimination that is defined as unwelcome conduct that either creates a hostile environment (see hostile environment harassment) or is a condition of working or learning (see quid pro quo harassment).

Veteran status – the quality of having served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days and discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge (definition from the U.S. Department of Labor).

Information provided by the North Carolina Office of State Personnel

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