Legal Glossary




Affirmative Relief

Remedies intended to restore the plaintiff to a position and status that she would have enjoyed had there been no illegal discrimination Attorney’s Fees-legal remedy that requires the defendant to pay for the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees


Back Pay/Front Pay

The wages a plaintiff would have received but for the employer’s discriminatory practices


BFOQ (Bona Fide Occupational Qualification)

A legally legitimate reason for which an employer may consider sex as a qualification for hiring



Refers to the opportunity your employer will have to present its side of the alleged discriminatory or harassing action


Circumstantial Evidence

Any fact from which the court can infer discrimination indirectly


Civil Rights Act of 1991

An amendment to Title VII that added several new remedies to claims of sexual harassment or discrimination


Compensatory Damages

Damages that compensate you for any actual losses you may have sustained at the hand of your employer


Declaratory Relief

Court ruling that decides the legal rights or relatinships of the parties in a case


Direct Evidence

Evidence so clear that no one would have to infer or imply any meaning to it


Disparate Impact

A policy which at first glance seems neutral, but which disproportionately harms women


Disparate Treatment

A policy or practice that explicitly treats women differently than men


Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The agency primarily responsible for investigating federal claims of employment discrimination on your behalf


Equal Pay Act

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for workers who are performing similar work at the same establishment. It is illegal to pay less for "equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed in similar working conditions."


Equitable Relief

Any remedy that the court chooses to grant based on what it deems fair and within its powers to enforce


Glass Ceiling

This metaphor refers to the discriminatory barrier that prevents women from advancing in their chosen career.


Hostile Environment

A situation in which any type of sexual


Injunctive Relief

A court order in your favor, directing your employer to take (or refrain from) a particular action. For example, the court can order your employer to change its discriminatory practices


Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

The legal cause of action of causing another severe emotional distress through one's negligent conduct


Preponderance of Evidence

The general standard of proof in civil cases. Evidence is said to meet this standard if it is more convincing than opposing evidence.


Prima facie

Literally meaning "on its face," the initial evidence a plaintiff must produce to a advance a claim of sexual harassment or discrimination. This burden usually contains several elements.


Probable Cause or Reasonable Cause

A reasonable suspicion of illegal activity


Protected Group/ Protected Class

Group of people intended by a legislature to benefit from the protection of a statute


Punitive Damages

Damages that serve to punish the employer for his actions and to deter future discrimination


Quid Pro Quo

Literally "this for that"; when an employee’s reaction to unwelcome sexual conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions, either actual or threatened, affecting compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment



Legal remedy in which an employee is allowed to return to her terminated position



What a court awards if you win your claim of sexual harassment or discrimination


Respondeat Superior

Legal doctrine that holds an employer responsible for the actions of an employee, i.e., a coworker


Statute of Limitations

A statute establishing a time limit for suing in a civil case


Title VII

Federal law within the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin




Bona Fide Occupational Qualification



Department of Fair Employment and Housing



Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Equal Pay Act



Florida Commission on Human Rights



Florida Civil Rights Act



Fair Employment and Housing Commission



Fair Employment and Housing Act



Massachusestts Commission Against Discrimination



Minnesota Department of Human Rights



Massachusetts Equal Pay Act



Minnesota Human Rights Act



Pregnancy Discrimination Act


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