Nondiscrimination — in General
A district shall not fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of any of the following protected characteristics:
- Race, color, or national origin;
- Age (applies to individuals who are 40 years of age or older);
- Disability; or
- Genetic information [see DAB].
42 U.S.C. 1981; 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. (Title VII); 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. (Title IX); 42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq. (Americans with Disabilities Act); 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq. (Age Discrimination in Employment Act); 29 U.S.C. 793, 794 (Rehabilitation Act); 42 U.S.C. 2000ff et seq. (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act); U.S. Const. Amend. I; Human Resources Code 121.003(f); Labor Code Ch. 21 (Texas Commission on Human Rights Act); Labor Code Ch. 21, Subch. H (genetic information)
Title VII proscribes employment practices that are overtly discriminatory (disparate treatment), as well as those that are fair in form but discriminatory in practice (disparate impact). Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989)
Disparate treatment (intentional discrimination) occurs when members of a protected group have been denied the same employment, promotion, membership, or other employment opportunities as have been available to other employees or applicants. 29 C.F.R. 1607.11
Disparate impact occurs when an employer uses a particular employment practice that causes a disparate (disproportionate) impact on a protected group and the employer fails to demonstrate that the challenged practice is job-related and consistent with business necessity. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(k)(1)(A); Labor Code 21.115, .122
A district may not deny employment to, terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, a person that is or has been a debtor under federal bankruptcy laws. A district may not discriminate against a person with whom a bankrupt or debtor has been associated, solely because the bankrupt or debtor is or has been a debtor under federal bankruptcy laws; was insolvent before the commencement of a bankruptcy case or during the case but before the debtor was granted or denied a discharge; or has not paid a debt that is dischargeable in the bankruptcy case or that was discharged under the bankruptcy laws. 11 U.S.C. 525(a)
A district may take employment actions based on religion, sex, national origin, or age in those certain instances where religion, sex, national origin, or age is a bona fide occupational qualification. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(e); 29 U.S.C. 623(f); Labor Code 21.119
A district shall not print or publish any notice or advertisement relating to district employment that indicates any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin, unless the characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3(b); Labor Code 21.059
Harassment of Employees
A district has an affirmative duty to maintain a working environment free of harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic. 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.; 29 C.F.R. 1606.8(a), 1604.11 [See DIA]
A district may not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant has opposed any unlawful, discriminatory employment practices or participated in the investigation of any complaint related to an unlawful, discriminatory employment practice. 29 U.S.C. 623(d) (ADEA); 42 U.S.C. 2000e-3(a) (Title VII); 34 C.F.R. 100.7(e) (Title VI); 34 C.F.R. 110.34 (Age Act); 42 U.S.C. 12203 (ADA); Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., 544 U.S. 167 (2005) (Title IX); Labor Code 21.055 [See DIA]
A district shall post in conspicuous places upon its premises a notice setting forth the information the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission deems appropriate to effectuate the purposes of the anti-discrimination laws. 29 U.S.C. 627; 42 U.S.C. 2000e-10
Section 504 Notice
A district that employs 15 or more persons shall take appropriate steps to notify applicants and employees, including those with impaired vision or hearing, that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability.
The notice shall state:
- That the district does not discriminate in employment in its programs and activities; and
- The identity of the district's 504 coordinator.
Methods of notification may include:
- Posting of notices;
- Publication in newspapers and magazines;
- Placing notices in district publications; and
- Distributing memoranda or other written communications.
If a district publishes or uses recruitment materials containing general information that it makes available to applicants or employees, it shall include in those materials a statement of its nondiscrimination policy.
34 C.F.R. 104.8
A district may take an employment action on the basis of age pursuant to a bona fide seniority system or a bona fide employee benefit plan. However, a bona fide employee benefit plan shall not excuse the failure to hire any individual and no such benefit plan shall require or permit the involuntary retirement of any individual because of age. 29 U.S.C. 623(f); Labor Code 21.102
A district may not evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they match the stereotype associated with their group. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989)
The prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. A district shall treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other employees for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs. 42 U.S.C. 2000e(k); 29 C.F.R. 1604.10; Labor Code 21.106
A district may not pay an employee at a rate less than the rate the district pays employees of the opposite sex for equal work on jobs the performance of which require equal skill, effort, or responsibility and which are performed under similar working conditions. This rule does not apply if the payment is pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any other factor other than sex. 29 U.S.C. 206(d) (Equal Pay Act); 34 C.F.R. 106.54 (Title IX)
The prohibition against discrimination on the basis of religion includes all aspects of religious observances and practice, as well as religious belief, unless a district demonstrates that it is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship to the district's business. "Undue hardship" means more than a de minimus (minimal) cost. 42 U.S.C. 2000e(j); 29 C.F.R. 1605.2; Labor Code 21.108
A district may not substantially burden an employee's free exercise of religion, unless the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 110.003
A person employed or maintained to obtain or aid in obtaining positions for public school employees may not directly or indirectly ask about, orally or in writing, the religion or religious affiliation of anyone applying for employment in a public school of this state. A violation of this provision is a Class B misdemeanor. A person who violates this provision is subject to civil penalties. Education Code 22.901
A district may not discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in job application procedures, hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. 42 U.S.C. 12112(a); 29 C.F.R. 1630.4(b); Labor Code 21.051
In addition, each district that receives assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must make positive efforts to employ, and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities in programs assisted by the IDEA. 34 C.F.R. 300.177(b)
Discrimination Based on Lack of Disability
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act do not provide a basis for a claim that an individual was subject to discrimination because of the individual's lack of disability. 42 U.S.C. 12201(g); 29 C.F.R. 1630.4(b); Labor Code 21.005(c)
Definition of Disability
- An actual disability: a physical or mental impairment [see definition, below] that substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities;
- A record of having such an impairment; or
- Being regarded as having such an impairment.
An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
"Regarded as" Having an Impairment
An individual meets the requirement of being "regarded as" having an impairment if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited by the ADA because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
Transitory and Minor
The "regarded as" prong of the definition does not apply to impairments that are transitory or minor. A transitory impairment is one with an actual or expected duration of six months or less. The "transitory" exception does not apply to the "actual disability" or "record of disability" prongs of the definition.
The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, such as medication, medical supplies, low-vision devices, prosthetics, hearing aids, mobility devices, oxygen therapy, assistive technology, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
The ameliorative effects of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity. Ordinary eyeglasses and contact lenses are lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or to eliminate refractive error.
42 U.S.C. 12102(1), (3), (4); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(g), (j)(1); Labor Code 21.002, .0021
"Physical or Mental Impairment"
"Physical or mental impairment" means:
- Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or
- Any mental or psychological disorder, such as an intellectual disability (formerly termed "mental retardation"), organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
29 C.F.R. 1630.2(h)
"Major Life Activities"
"Major life activities" include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.
"Major life activities" also include the operation of major bodily functions, including functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions. The operation of a major bodily function includes the operation of an individual organ within the body system.
42 U.S.C. 12102(2); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(i); Labor Code 21.002
"Qualified individual" means an individual who:
- Satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires; and
- With or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position. Consideration shall be given to a district's judgment as to what functions of a job are essential. A written job description prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job is evidence of the job's essential functions.
42 U.S.C. 12111(8); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(m)
A district is required, absent undue hardship, to make a reasonable accommodation to an otherwise qualified individual who meets the definition of disability under the "actual disability" or "record of disability" prongs. A district is not required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an individual who meets the definition of disability solely under the "regarded as" prong. 42 U.S.C. 12112(b)(5); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(o)(4), .9; 29 U.S.C. 794; 34 C.F.R. 104.11; Labor Code 21.128 [See DBB regarding medical examinations and inquiries under the Americans with Disabilities Act]
"Reasonable accommodation" includes:
- Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and
- Job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
42 U.S.C. 12111(9); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(o); 34 C.F.R. 104.12(b)
"Undue hardship" means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of the nature and cost of the accommodation needed, overall financial resources of the affected facility and the district, and other factors set out in law. 42 U.S.C. 12111(10); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(p); 34 C.F.R. 104.12(c)
Discrimination Based on Relationship
A district shall not exclude or deny equal jobs or benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against, a qualified individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a family, business, social, or other relationship or association. 42 U.S.C. 12112(b)(4); 29 C.F.R. 1630.8; 34 C.F.R. 104.11
Illegal Drugs and Alcohol
The term "qualified individual with a disability" does not include any employee or applicant who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs, when a district acts on the basis of such use.
A district is not prohibited from conducting drug testing of employees and applicants for the illegal use of drugs or making employment decisions based on the results of such tests.
42 U.S.C. 12114(c), (d); Labor Code 21.002(6)(A) [See DHE]
The term "qualified individual with a disability" does not include an individual who is an alcoholic and whose current use of alcohol prevents the employee from performing the duties of his or her job or whose employment, by reason of such current alcohol abuse, would constitute a direct threat to property or the safety of others. 42 U.S.C. 12114(a); 29 U.S.C. 705(20)(C); 29 C.F.R. 1630.3(a); 28 C.F.R. 35.104; Labor Code 21.002(6)(A)
It is unlawful for a district to use qualification standards, employment tests, or other selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities, on the basis of disability, unless the standard, test, or other selection criteria, as used by the district, is shown to be job related for the position in question and is consistent with business necessity. 29 C.F.R. 1630.10(a)
Direct Threat to Health or Safety
As a qualification standard, a district may require that an individual not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace. "Direct threat" means a significant risk to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation. 42 U.S.C. 12111(3); 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(r); Labor Code 21.002(6)(B)
Vision Standards and Tests
A district shall not use qualification standards, employment tests, or other selection criteria based on an individual's uncorrected vision unless the standard, test, or other selection criteria, as used by the district, is shown to be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. 42 U.S.C. 12113(c); 29 C.F.R. 1630.10(b); Labor Code 21.115(b)
A district may refuse to assign or continue to assign an individual to a job involving food handling if the individual has an infectious or communicable disease that is transmitted to others through handling of food. 42 U.S.C. 12113(e); 29 U.S.C. 705(20)(D); 29 C.F.R. 1630.16(e); Labor Code 21.002(6)(B)
A district that is subject to the jurisdiction of Title I of the ADA (employment discrimination) or to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (employment discrimination) shall comply with the reasonable accommodation requirements of those laws with respect to service animals. [See Reasonable Accommodations, above]
A district that is not subject to either Title I or section 504 shall comply with Title II of the ADA (discrimination by public entity). An employer that is subject to Title II shall comply with 28 C.F.R. part 35, including the requirements relating to service animals at 28 C.F.R. 35.136 [see FBA].
28 C.F.R. 35.140
A district shall not deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment on the basis of membership in a uniformed service, performance in a uniformed service, application for uniformed service, or obligation to a uniformed service. A district shall not take adverse employment action or discriminate against any person who takes action to enforce protections afforded by the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA). 38 U.S.C. 4311 [See also DECB]
A district that receives federal financial assistance and that employs 15 or more persons shall adopt grievance procedures that incorporate appropriate due process standards and that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. 34 C.F.R. 104.7(b), .11
Americans with Disabilities Act
A district that employs 50 or more persons shall adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action that would be prohibited by the ADA. 28 C.F.R. 35.107, .140
A district that receives federal financial assistance shall adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of employee complaints alleging any action prohibited by Title IX. 34 C.F.R. 106.8(b); North Haven Board of Education v. Bell, 456 U.S. 512 (1982)
A district shall designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with Title IX, Section 504, the Age Act, and the ADA. The district shall notify all employees of the name, office address, and telephone number of the employee(s) so designated. 34 C.F.R. 104.7(b), .11; 28 C.F.R. 35.107, .140; 34 C.F.R. 106.8(b)