Charges of job discrimination (race, age, sex, religion, disability, etc.) traditionally spike during recessions. And that certainly happened during the Great Recession, as employee job-bias complaints filed with the EEOC reached all-time highs of more than 99,000 complaints in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
However, an improving economy had employees in a less litigious mood during fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30, 2013. According to an EEOC report released Dec. 16, workers filed 93,727 job discrimination charges in fiscal year 2013.
While that’s about 6,000 fewer claims than 2012, the total still runs near historic highs (see chart below). During the first decade of this century, U.S. employees on average filed 82,000 job-bias complaints annually.
While fewer people filed discrimination charges against private-sector employers and ex-employers last year, those who did collected a record $372 million in monetary relief through settlements and mediation. That trumps last year’s record-breaking total of $365 million.
One reason for bigger settlements: The EEOC is targeting companies with a systemic culture of job bias.
Another trend to watch: The average time for the EEOC enforcement staff to investigate and bring charges to a resolution was reduced by 21 days to 267 days. Message: Employers can expect more aggressive enforcement and quicker resolution of cases.
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