The EEOC has released state-by-state charge filing statistics for the past three years. Which types of discrimination are popular (and not so popular) with Ohio employees?
- Race discrimination: 35.4% of all charges
- Retaliation: 32.9%
- Disability: 29.6%
- Age: 28.6%
- Sex: 27.3%
- National Origin: 5.3%
- Religion: 3.5%
- Color: 1.7%
- Equal Pay: 0.9%
- Genetic Information: 0.3%
These numbers shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to any businesses.
What is more interesting (at least to me) is how Ohio fairs when compared to the other 49 states. For fiscal year 2011, there were 3,137 total charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC in Ohio. Overall, that number comprises 3.1 percent of all charges filed nationwide, placing Ohio 12th among the 50 states.
Ohio is 7th in overall population, yet 12th in EEOC filings. Is is possible that Ohio is more friendly to employers than smaller states such as Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, all of which rank ahead of Ohio in the number of EEOC filings per year? Probably not. Instead, let me offer a different explanation. Ohio’s employment discrimination statute is quirky. It allows employees to proceed directly to court without first exhausting their administrative remedies by filing a charge with the EEOC (or its state equivalent).
Ohio businesses are facing their fair share of discrimination claims; they are just facing them in courts instead of in the agencies. This quirk fails Ohio businesses. Employees are able to bypass the EEOC’s crucial role in filtering out frivolous claims. Until Ohio’s legislators step up to the plate and fix this anomaly of our discrimination statute, our state’s business community will continue to be disadvantaged by defending the bulk of discrimination claims in a more costly and time-consuming judicial venue.