What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination refers to the unfair or unequal treatment of a person or group based on factors like age or race.

What is Duke’s Policy on Discrimination?

Duke University is committed to ensuring an environment free of prohibited discrimination, and our policies encourage an inclusive community that respects and values all of its members.

In accordance with federal laws, Duke University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or sex, age, disability, genetic information, national origin, or veteran status. We expand these protections further by also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

Learn more:

What Are Some Examples of Discrimination?

Generally, discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently or poorly based on one of the factors above. Examples could include:

  • Refusing to hire an applicant or to promote an employee because of their race
  • Refusing to provide an employee with reasonable accommodations for the employee’s religious beliefs
  • Giving an employee a poor performance evaluation based on his or her veteran status
  • Persistent verbal harassment of an employee based on the employee’s national origin (covered by the Harassment Policy and Procedures)
  • Assigning a student a low grade based on the student’s religion
  • Conditioning a passing grade on a student’s submission to sexual advances
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability

What’s Not Considered Discrimination?

  • Disagreements about supervisory techniques and management styles
  • Perceptions of unfair treatment generally; for example, disagreements about the assessment of the quality of work or educational performance not based on race, sex, national origin, etc.

Whom Can I Contact for Help?

If you feel you’ve been subjected to prohibited discrimination or you have questions about Duke’s discrimination policy, please contact the Office for Institutional Equity at 919-684-8222.

You may also get help from any of the following resources:


Confidential assistance is available for employees through the Personal Assistance Service at 919-416-1727 (Duke Raleigh employees should call 919-872-4786).


Confidential assistance for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students is available through:

Applicants, Visitors, and Patients

If you are a Duke applicant for employment or admissions or a visitor or patient, there are resources to assist you with your concern or question involving discrimination. You may contact either:

  • The office or department with which you directly interacted
  • OIE at 919-684-8222

Learn how to file a discrimination complaint.

Glossary Term


Any unlawful distinction, preference, or detriment to an individual as compared to others that is based on an individual’s protected status.