March 3, 2010
Record Numbers of EEOC Charges in 2009
The EEOC reports the second highest number of discrimination charges ever filed in 2009, at 93,277. New records were set for charges based on disability (21,451), national origin (11,134) and religious discrimiantion (3,386).
Perhaps more importantly, for the first time ever the largest category of EEOC charges was retaliation in 2009, with 33,613 such charges being filed. These retaliation charges accounted for 36% of the EEOC's overall case-load. Retaliation charges out-numbered sexual harassment charges by nearly three to one.
With nearly ten percent unemployment, and with job prospects being questionable in the present economy, experts predict that 2010 may see even more EEOC charges, as more out of work individuals explore potential legal claims related to their employment. The EEOC has asked for a budget increase and is looking to hire more than 200 new staff employees to work on investigations.
Employers should remain mindful of their obligations to provide workplaces free of unlawful discrimination and retaliation. Having good policies is not enough - employers should understand their own policies and take steps to enforce them. Even then, however, many employers have become targets of claims in the present poor economy, and those numbers are expected to increase.