Job Discrimination Complaints Hit Record High


In 2008 there was a record number of workers who filed federal job discrimination complaints against private employers, with claims of unfair treatment by older employees seeing the largest increase.

More than 95,000 discrimination claims were received by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the 2008 fiscal year, whereas last year there were 82,800 claims– a 15 percent increase over the previous year. Discrimination claims made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seek to remedy the situation, which may result in a lawsuit. Some complains end up in financial settlements and mediation, while others are determined to have no merit.

Age discrimination charges jumped by 28.7 percent, with 24,582 claims, in addition to surging record highs of allegations based on race, sex and retaliation.

A visiting scholar at the Center for Economic and Policy research said that the economy is in “meltdown mode,” and if a company lays off an older worker, the savings are much greater than those associated with laying off a younger worker. Federal laws barring age discrimination cover workers age 40 and older.

Race discrimination allegations remained the most frequently filed complaint, with 33,937 charges, which made up 35.6 percent of the total filings last year. This was also an increase of 11 percent from 2007.

Retaliation was the second highest complaint, up 22.6 percent from 2007. Sex discrimination complaints rose by 14 percent.

The agency says the overall increase could be due to various factors, including the state that the economy is in, increased diversity in the workforce, and greater employee awareness of the law and the EEOC’s focus on systemic litigation.

EEOC spokesman David Grinberg said the number of claims could rise even more considering the current data is only through September 30 of 2008, which may not fully account for the impact of the recession.

Many are not surprised that the number of complaints have increased due to the declining economy. However, what has been surprising is the rate at which that number is increasing, says John Lomax, a labor and employment shareholder with Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig.


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