Discrimination in the Workplace: Double Digit Increases

by Michael Haberman on March 6, 2008 · 0 comments


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a News Release on March 5th detailing the bias claims from 2007 compared to 2006. With one exception, bias claims in all areas saw double digit increases. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Race continues to be the largest number of claims, with 30,510 claims, an increase of 12%;
  • Retaliation claims had the largest increase, up 18% to 26,663;
  • Age discrimination has the second largest percentage increase, up 15%;
  • Sex/Gender claims were the only area with a single digit increase of just 7%, however, during FY 2007, pregnancy charges surged to a record high level of 5,587, up 14% from the prior fiscal year’s record of 4,901. Sexual harassment filings increased for the first time since FY 2000, numbering 12,510 – up 4% from the prior fiscal year’s total of 12,025. Additionally, a record 16% of sexual harassment charges were filed by men, up from 9% in the early 1990s.
  • Disability claims reached the highest level in 10 years.
  • The EEOC recovered $345 million in monetary relief for the charging parties.

So why this increase in activity? Here is my take on some of them:

  1. More sexual harassment charges by men- More women bosses?
  2. Retaliation charges- Lack of training in companies to reinforce that retaliation is as illegal as the harassment and lack of follow up by HR to insure it is not occurring.
  3. Slow down of sex/gender claims- better balance of male/female ratio in the workplace.
  4. Disability claims- a greater willingness of the disabled to enter the labor force and a result of an aging workforce as baby boomers age;
  5. Age claims- well…. I think everyone probably knows the answer to that one.

What is your take on this? You have any alternative explanations?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Michael, I am not an HR person, so please forgive if this seems a silly thought/question. But I wondered when reading of the large increases if some of this has not so much to do with increased discrimination, etc. but rather an increase in litigations. We seem to love litigation in this country and unfortunately, the high rewards often perpetuates this.

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Anonymous March 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm

That is actually a very good point. We do have a “sue happy” society and a population of attorneys who are under- or unemployed and thus are happy to take on cases.

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