Job discrimination in 2013: Fewer complaints to EEOC, but for bigger bucks

Line graph showing the number of EEOC bias cases filed from 2001 to 2013Charges of job discrimination (race, age, sex, religion, disability, etc.) by U.S. employees 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 a new EEOC report released on Dec. 16, American workers filed 93,727 charges of job discrimination 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-discrimination complaints annually.

While fewer people filed discrimination charges against their employers and ex-employers last year, those who did collected a record $372 million in monetary relief through settlements and mediation. The $372 million obtained from private-sector employers trumps last year’s also record-breaking enforcement total of $365 million.

One reason for bigger settlements: The EEOC has worked harder at 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. The message: Employers can expect more aggressive enforcement and quicker resolution of cases.

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Most popular job-bias cliams filed by employees with the EEOC

Hopefully, most supervisors know that it’s illegal to discriminate against employees and applicants because of their race, age, sex, religion or disability. But apparetly fewer know that the same federal laws also make it illegal to retaliate against people for voicing complaints about such discrimination. In 2012, for the third year in a row, retaliation was the number one type of job discrimination claim filed with the EEOC.

Here are the most popular discrimination claims (note that many people charge multiple types of discrimination in their job-bias claims with the eeoc):

1. Retaliation – 37,836 employee complaints, up 70% since 2005

2. Race – 33,512 complaints, up 26%

3. Sex – 30,356 complaints, up 31%

4. Disability – 26,379 complaints, up 77%

5. Age – 22,857 complaints, up 38%

6. National origin – 10,883 complaints, up 35%

7. Religion – 3,811 complaints, up 63%


Source: EEOC, FY2012 stats