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Affirmative Action FAQs

What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action is the ongoing, good faith effort of an employer to make sure that equal employment opportunities are a reality in the workforce. It is also an action to recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities and covered veterans.

Is KU Medical Center required to engage in affirmative action efforts?

Yes, as a federal contractor, KU Medical Center is required to comply with affirmative action laws. Applicable laws include the following:

  • Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity and requires federal contractors to take affirmative action in the recruitment of women and minorities.
  • Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to hire and promote individuals with disabilities.
  • Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 prohibits discrimination on the basis of veteran status and requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to employ and advance covered veterans.

Does Affirmative Action mean that I should hire a female, minority, an individual with a disability, or a veteran over other qualified candidates?

No. In fact, hiring someone because of their protected class would violate non-discrimination laws. Rather, affirmative action means that KU Medical Center must engage in outreach and recruitment efforts to encourage minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply for vacant positions within the University so that there will be greater diversity among the most qualified candidates for the position. The most qualified applicant for the position should be selected, regardless of gender, race, disability status or veteran status. But consider that different applicants may be equally qualified to do the job but have different skills, experience or assets to contribute to the work environment.

Who enforces Affirmative Action?

The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is responsible for making sure federal contractors comply with equal opportunity and affirmative action requirements. OFCCP can investigate complaints of discrimination or conduct audits to evaluate whether an organization's programs and practices are in compliance.

What if KU Medical Center does not comply with Affirmative Action obligations?

The penalties for non-compliance can range from additional reporting requirements to the OFCCP, possible fines with back pay, and ultimately disbarment from participating in federal contracts (which would include federal grant awards). In addition, the University would be subjected to scrutiny over its employment practices, which could have a damaging effect on the University's reputation as an equal opportunity employer.

Do I have to conduct a search if I know who I want to hire?

Yes. Although there may be limited times when a search waiver may be an option, knowing who you want to hire is not a valid reason to waive a search. In order to demonstrate KUMC's affirmative action efforts, each vacancy should be posted in a manner that encourages all qualified candidates to apply. It is certainly appropriate to invite those whom you know may be interested in the position to apply. But, ultimately, the most qualified candidate should be selected.

If I advertise for an assistant professor, but want to offer our top candidate a full professor position, can I do this?

No. We cannot advertise a position at one rank and hire at another. If the other candidates were aware that we were willing to consider candidates at a higher rank, they may have applied and the applicant pool may have been substantially different.

We hired a temporary research assistant but now have funding for a permanent position.

Can we convert the temporary employee to permanent without advertising for the position?

Not unless you hired the temporary research assistant from an advertised posting and stated in the advertisement that the position had the potential to become a permanent position. Additionally, the required qualifications for the permanent position must be the same as those stated in the advertisement for the temporary-to-permanent position. Otherwise, a newly funded permanent position should be advertised because there may be candidates who were not interested in a temporary position who may be interested in, and well qualified for, the permanent position.

Can the advertised qualifications for the permanent position be narrowly focused to highlight the qualifications of the current research assistant?

No. Tailoring qualifications to mirror a specific candidate's resume or to discourage other potentially more qualified candidates from applying runs contrary to the affirmative action principle of providing equal opportunities for all and does not reflect good faith efforts towards increasing diversity. However, you can encourage the individual holding the temporary position to apply for the permanent position.

Can a contractor ask a recruiting firm to keep, on its behalf, the applicant tracking records?

OFCCP's recordkeeping rules require Federal contractors and subcontractors to keep and maintain records regarding their selection process, including information about applicants and hires. The use of a recruiting firm in the hiring process does not relieve a contractor of its recordkeeping obligations under the regulations; the contractor will be held accountable if the specified records are not maintained. Accordingly, if a department chooses to use a recruiting firm, the department should work with the Human Resources Office to ensure that the recruiting firm complies with KU Medical Center's affirmative action principles and provides necessary applicant data to the University's PeopleAdmin tracking system.

Can the basic qualifications be modified during the selection process, or do they need to be set prior to the beginning of the process?

All basic qualifications must be established prior to the selection process. Basic qualifications are the qualifications advertised to potential applicants as being required in order to be considered for the position. If the hiring manager becomes interested in hiring a candidate who does not meet all of the basic or required qualifications, the position must be re-announced with revised qualifications listed so that any applicants who meet the new qualifications can apply and be considered for the position.

Do we have to interview more than one candidate?

Best practice is to interview more than one candidate. This demonstrates that the department has taken reasonable efforts to find and select the most qualified person for the position using equitable and nondiscriminatory processes.

Is it necessary to enter a dispense code for every applicant? And does it matter which code is used?

Yes. In the event that OFCCP conducts an audit or there is a discrimination investigation regarding a particular hiring process, the dispense codes will be reviewed as the hiring manager's reason for not selecting each particular candidate. If, for instance, Applicant A is among the final candidates but is not selected because they interview poorly, the dispense code should not say that Applicant A did not meet minimum qualifications. Applicant A would be able to challenge this rationale, thus calling into question the legitimacy of the hiring manager's reason for not selecting them. A hiring manager or department who cannot defend the legitimate reasons for their decision may be assumed to have considered a discriminatory reason for their decision.

If we want to hire internally, must we advertise externally?

No. If you intend to fill the position through an internal hire, you only need to post the position internally. However, best practice would be to first consider whether you are likely to get interested, qualified candidates if you were to advertise externally; If so, advertising externally would provide greater opportunity to obtain a more diverse applicant pool from which to select the most qualified candidate.

Required v. Preferred Qualifications

Best practice is to limit the required qualifications to only those that are actually necessary for the job, such as a certification, license, or degree, expertise with certain operating systems or software, or experience in a particular field. Consider whether years of experience can substitute for education and include that qualification as an alternative ("bachelor's degree or four years relevant experience"). Listing more qualifications as preferred, rather than required, encourages a greater number of candidates to apply, thus increasing the opportunity for greater diversity within the applicant pool.

Can I list physical requirements of a position?

Physical requirements should be limited to those that are necessary to perform the duties of the position. Additionally, the physical requirements should be written with focus on the ability to perform a particular function rather than how to perform the function. For example, state "strong communication skills" or "ability to communicate effectively" rather than "strong verbal skills" or "perform behavioral/mental health assessments" rather than "utilize sight, sense, and touch to perform physical examinations."

Where can I learn more about hiring individuals with disabilities? -The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy lists several resources for promoting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. - The Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network provides tools and resources for advancing disability inclusion in the Kansas City area.

Where can I learn more about hiring protected veterans? - The Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs provides a list of sites and resources that promote the hiring of veterans. -The Department of Labor's Veterans' employment and Training Service lists several resources for promoting employment opportunities for veterans.

Does Affirmative Action only apply to recruitment and hiring?

No. While enhancing diversity within the workforce begins with recruitment, the Affirmative Action principles of ensuring equal opportunities for all and prohibiting discrimination apply to all employment decisions, including promotions and separations. KU Medical Center encourages departments to build an inclusive and engaging work environment that supports professional development opportunities for all employees.

Where can I get more information on recruiting best practices?

  • Review KU's Guidelines for Successful Recruiting Unclassified Professional Staff and University Support Staff (This guide is for the Lawrence campus and some portions may not be applicable but it is a good resource).
  • Review KU Medical Center's Recruitment and Hiring Guide
  • Contact your Human Resources Business Partner or the HR Recruiter with any questions
  • Contact the KU Medical Center Equal Opportunity Office with any questions
Last modified: May 07, 2019