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Affirmative Action, Hiring and Federal Dollars

Dec. 18, 2012

Baylor, as a recipient of federal contract grant dollars, is subject to the affirmative action hiring requirements imposed by Executive Order 11246. That order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color religion, sex or national origin. It also requires that recipients "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin." These requirements apply to the entire university community regardless of whether a hiring department receives federal grant funding.

So what is meant by "affirmative action?" While many mistakenly believe the phrase means a quota system where the employer must set aside a certain number of positions for certain demographic categories, such is not the case. Rather, affirmative action means that federal contractors must implement plans to increase participation of minorities and women in the workplace for under-represented minorities. For hiring departments, this means that each available position must be advertised in places such that the position announcement attracts both a large audience and an audience likely to contain qualified minority and women candidates. This process is coordinated through Baylor Human Resources talent management department.

In fact, an affirmative action plan may not engage in set-asides or quotas. If someone is hired because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin, that hire actually violates the law because it is based on a discriminatory factor. The purpose of affirmative action is to set goals of increasing underrepresented minority participation in the workplace.

You may also be asking "how does Baylor comply with the religious discrimination aspect of this order when it exercises a religious hiring preference for Christians and Jews?" The answer is that Baylor, as a religiously-affiliated organization may lawfully hire "co-religionists" to the exclusion of other faith traditions because the order, as well as Title VII, Title IX, Texas Labor Code Chapter 21, and other non-discrimination laws exempt religiously-affiliated organizations from the non-discrimination provisions on religious grounds. In other words, under the law, Baylor may permissibly use religion as a selection criteria in hiring and remain eligible to receive federal dollars and to call itself an "Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer."

If you are planning on a hire in your department, you will need to coordinate with Human Resources to determine the appropriate advertising media as well as to understand which religious faiths may be permissibly hired at Baylor. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of General Counsel or Human Resources, Department of Talent Management.