According to a new report released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Wednesday, the level of workplace discrimination complaints remains at a historic high, suggesting a real problem for HR managers this year.
The agency reported that it had seen 93,777 discrimination complaints throughout fiscal year 2009: the second-highest level in its history. According to statement released by EEOC spokesman David Grinberg, "The 2009 statistics show that discrimination is still a major problem in the workplace."
Acting Chairman Stuart Ishimaru added, "the latest data tell us that, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the Commission's work is far from finished [...] Employers must step up their efforts to foster discrimination-free and inclusive workplaces, or risk enforcement and litigation by the EEOC."
A worrying increase
According to their data, three separate types of discrimination complaints have seen increases between 2008 and 2009. They were: disability complaints (up 10 percent, from 19,453 to 21,451); national origin complaints (up five percent, from 10,601 to 11,134); and religious discrimination claims (up three percent, from 3272 to 3386).
While the increases echo a decade-long trend, with the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC complaints alleging discrimination based on race and retaliation (both 36 percent), the EEOC credits these increases with very specific market drivers.
In fact, according to the agency, greater public accessibility to the EEOC, economic conditions, increased diversity and other demographic shifts in the labor force and employees' greater awareness of their legal rights have all led to the increase.
Whatever the reason for the shift, however, there are concerns that discrimination in the workplace will remain and pose a real issue for HR leaders in 2010. A full list of the EEOCs enforcement and litigation statistics for 2009 are available on the agency's website.
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