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LEGAL UPDATE-EEOC reports big increase in discrimination claims

EEOC reports big increase in discrimination claims 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a total of 82,792 private sector discrimination claims in 2007, the highest volume since 2002 and the largest annual increase (9%) since the early 1990s. The statistics also show that the EEOC recovered over $345 million in compensation.

According to the EEOC’s 2007 data, allegations of discrimination based on race, retaliation (victimisation in the UK), and sex were the most frequently filed claims, continuing a long-term trend. Additionally, nearly all major charge categories showed double digit percentage increases from the prior year — a rare occurrence.  The EEOC believe the jump in claims may be due to a combination of factors, including greater awareness of the law, changing economic conditions, and increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labour force.  Some key statistics reported were as follows:   

  • During 2007, pregnancy claims surged to a record high level of 5,587, up 14% from the prior year’s record of 4,901.
  • Sexual harassment claims increased for the first time since 2000, numbering 12,510, with a record 16% of sexual harassment charges filed by men
  • The EEOC recovered approximately $345 million in compensation, up 26% from the prior year’s total of $274 million
  • The EEOC resolved a record 8,649 claims through its voluntary Mediation Program (up 5% from the prior year’s record high), with a user satisfaction rate of 96% indicating that nearly all participants would return to the program in the future if claims arose.

Commission Chair, Naomi C. Earp, said: “Corporate America needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively.” She added: “ To ensure that equality of opportunity becomes a reality in the 21st century American workplace, employers need to place a premium on fostering inclusive and discrimination-free work environments for all individuals.”

 

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