Discrimination charges soar in down economy
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Discrimination charges against employers reached record heights in 2010, according to a recent report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC announced it received an all-time high of 99,922 job-bias claims in the fiscal year 2010, a 7 percent increase from 93,277 in 2009, which also surpassed the record of 95,402 claims filed in 2008
One of the major contributing factors to this surge in overall statistics is the prolonged recession. The economic downturn has put pressure on employers forced to scale back workforces and on their employees, who feel their jobs are on the line.
Though widespread layoffs are a major factor in the increase in claims with the EEOC, stress and tension among those still working is also driving discrimination charges. Among the complaints filed with the EEOC, workers listed being overlooked for promotions, being shifted to a job that doesn't match their abilities and not having access to required accommodations they need to perform a job function.
The EEOC has not yet determined how many claims were based on race, disability, or any of the other categories of discrimination.
It's not uncommon for discrimination charges to rise in a recession, but employers must continue to abide by the federal laws that prohibit making any employment decisions based on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability and age. Many state and local laws also cover additional factors, such as sexual orientation. With the added emotional stress of tough economic times, business owners should take extra steps to train all managers and supervisors on how to approach employment decisions.
-- Jane Lewis Volk, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP, email@example.com
First Published February 7, 2011 12:00 am