Glossary of Terms

Affirmative Action:

An action taken by a company or institution to correct an imbalance in the composition of its workforce in order to be more representative of gender and marginalized groups. Complaints filed under affirmative action laws are typically on behalf of a class of people who allege discrimination.

Qualified Worker:

An employee or applicant who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.

Reasonable Accommodation:

This legal concept was embodied initially in the Americans with Disabilities Act but is now used in other countries’ disability laws, and in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It may include, but is not limited to: (1) making existing facilities used by the employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with a disability – for example, employee lavatories; (2) job restructuring, modifying work schedules, or reassignment to a vacant position; (3) acquiring or modifying equipment or assistive devices, adjusting or modifying tests, training materials or policies; and (4) providing sign language interpreters or readers for individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Undue Hardship (or Burden):

This is the counter to Reasonable Accommodation and is defined as an action involving significant difficulty or expense when considered in the light of factors such as the size of the company, its financial resources and the nature and structure of the operation. An employer is not required to lower production standards in order to make an accommodation, nor is she or he obligated to provide personal use items such as hearing aids or glasses.