Frequently Asked Questions

What does equal employment opportunity mean?

It means access to all available jobs and training, under equal terms and conditions, and with equal benefits and services, without actions, policies, or practices which discriminate among applicants or employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or religion. This includes quality in recruitment, hiring, layoff, discharge, recall, promotion, training, responsibility, wages, vacation, overtime, insurance, retirement and pension benefits.

What does affirmative action mean?

Affirmative Action means taking specific action (e.g., in recruitment, hiring, or training) which is designed and taken for the purpose of eliminating the present effects of past discrimination. One such result of past discrimination is the under-representation of racial and/or ethnic minorities, women, Vietnam Era Veterans, and people with disabilities in the workforce. In cases where certain groups protected by law are underrepresented in the workforce, affirmative action attempts to address the disparities through numerical goals and timetables.

Why Do We Need Affirmative Action?

The need for affirmative action exists because discrimination exists. Discrimination is the unequal treatment of a class of people. If the result of an action, policy or practice is unequal treatment of a particular class of people, then that action, policy, or practice is discriminatory. It may involve a single act, or it may involve a continuing policy or practice. The action may be intentional or unintentional; purpose or intent is irrelevant when the effect is to deny equal opportunity.

Targets of discrimination usually belong to categories of people who possess imperfect access to positions of equal power, prestige, and privileges in a society (synonym; subordinate). In addition, the target of discrimination is usually perceived as a minority group.

The real and/or perceived characteristics used to define a minority group are usually based on:

  • Physical: They have a different sex and/or age than the power elite, have a disability that is perceived to be unattractive by the power elite, or are perceived as being different racially from the elite.
  • Economic: They are perceived as belonging to a lower social class.
  • Cultural: Their religion and/or ethnicity is different than that of the power elite.
  • Behavioral: Their behavior is considered deviant. This would include people that are mentally impaired or developmentally disabled.


  • Bias: A highly personal and un-reasoned distortion of judgment
  • Differential Treatment: The application of a requirement or rule, written or unwritten, to one class of persons and not to another.
  • Institutional Racism: Institutional Racism represents a social system in which race is a the major criterion of role assignment, role rewards, and of political control takes place over minority groups by a ruling elite, the result is a monopoly of political, economic, social, cultural, and psychological institutions/resources. Invariably, a social system emerges which is oppressive to all minorities.
  • Prejudice: A person exhibits prejudice when they show an unwillingness to change a biased belief and/or attitude after being presented with new, contradictory information.
  • Protected Class: Each of the groups protected from discrimination under the law; they include men and women on the basis of sex, and minority groups on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, etc.
  • Stereotype: are exaggerated, conventional, usually formulaic and oversimplified conception, opinions and/or beliefs associated with a unique category of people. This includes the attribution of identical characteristics of all people in a group, regardless of the actual variation among members of the group.


Phone: (608) 283-1391
Fax: (608) 266-2138
TTY: Call Wisconsin Relay 711

7:45 AM to 4:30 PM
Closed all County holidays

Our Location

210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Room 356
Madison, WI 53703