George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Discrimination Defined

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently solely on the basis of a quality perceived as different. 

Actions or words prompted by someone's race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, or veteran’s status are considered discriminatory if they:

  • Adversely affect a term or condition of someone's employment, education, living environment or participation in a university activity;
  • Are used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a university activity;
  • Have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity.

Mason's Office of Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics will investigate cases of discrimination involving:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender Identity
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Physical Disability
  • Mental Disability
  • Veteran Status
  • Pregnancy Status
  • Genetic Information

Instances of discrimination can include:

  • Ethnic slurs, racial "jokes", sexualized conduct, offensive or derogatory comments or other verbal or physical conduct based on illegal discrimination if the conduct creates a hostile or offensive work or academic environment, or interferes with the individual's performance.
  • Failing to provide reasonable accommodation to students, staff, or visitors with disabilities.
  • Harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, pregnancy status, genetic information, disability, veteran status or age.
  • Retaliating against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or for opposing discriminatory practices.
  • Employment or academic decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, sexual orientation, race, age, religion, ethnic group, national origin, marital status, pregnancy status, veteran status, disability, or genetic information.
  • Denying employment or educational opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, age, ethnic group, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy status, genetic information or disability.