Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do you know? EEOC filings reach a record number

Do you know? In 2008, the EEOC received 95,402 private sector charges of discrimination, which is a 15.2% increase from 2007. Given the current state of the economy, it is fair to assume a larger percentage increase for 2009, brining the EEOC’s charge processing well into six digits for next year.

The information comes from the EEOC’s Fiscal Year 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, which is akin to its annual report if it was a publicly traded company. Other highlights:

  • In 2009, the EEOC will publish regulations providing guidance to employers and employees on the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits public and private employers from using genetic information in employment decisions.
  • The EEOC will issue regulations implementing the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, which changes the way EEOC will be evaluating charges of discrimination received under Title I of the ADA.
  • The EEOC will continue to pursue its E-RACE Initiative by taking a hard look at issues that impact race and color discrimination.
  • The EEOC will focus its resources on combating systemic workplace discrimination.

What does this mean for you? For one thing, there is a good chance that a terminated employee who belongs to a protected class will pursue a claim at least via the filing of an EEOC or OCRC charge. Secondly, employers will get much needed guidance on how the EEOC will interpret GINA and the ADA Amendments. While this guidance is not binding on courts, it is very persuasive and will provide employers with a great jumping off point on how to put these new laws into play in the workplace. Finally, if your company has a policy or practice that systemically targets a protected class, there is a decent chance you will find yourself on the EEOC’s radar, if not in 2009 then at some point.