Thursday, March 6, 2008

EEOC posts huge gain in discrimination charges

According to this EEOC press release, discrimination charges filed with the EEOC increased by 9% in 2007. The 82,792 private sector discrimination charges filed last year was the highest volume of incoming charges since 2002 and the largest annual increase since the early 1990s.

Race was the most frequently filed claim, with retaliation a close second and having the greatest percentage increase:

Basis of Charge Filing 2007 2006 Percentage Increase/Historical Comparison
RACE 30,510 27,238 Up 12% to highest level since 1994
RETALIATION 26,663 22,555 Up 18% to record high level, double since 1992
SEX/GENDER 24,826 23,247 Up 7% to highest level since 2002
AGE 19,103 16,548 Up 15%, largest annual increase since 2002
DISABILITY 17,734 15,575 Up 14% to highest level since 1998
NATIONAL ORIGIN 9,369 8,327 Up 12%, above 9,000 for second time ever
RELIGION 2,880 2,541 Up 13% to record high level, double since 1992

EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp believes that companies' failures in combating workplace discrimination explains these numbers: "Corporate America needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively. To ensure that equality of opportunity becomes a reality in the 21st century workplace, employers need to place a premium on fostering inclusive and discrimination-free work environments for all individuals."

Ms. Earp's statement would be more telling if the EEOC also released data on the percentage of charges on which the EEOC found probable cause as compared to how many were dismissed. This increase is much more likely the result of the economic downtown and more job losses, instead of companies avoiding their EEO responsibilities.