The agency has made preventing illegal retaliation by employers against employees who engage in protected civil rights activity a high priority.
New numbers from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reflect national trends in the kinds of discrimination being experienced in the workplace by American employees. Unlawful retaliatory action by employers toward employees who engage in protected activities under anti-discrimination laws was the most common kind of complaint filed with the agency in fiscal year 2015.
The EEOC - the federal agency charged with enforcement of U.S. laws against employment discrimination - announced its FY 2015 numbers on February 11, 2016, in a press release. The almost 90,000 discrimination claims received by the agency are broken down by type of claim:
- Total claims: 89,385
- Race: 31,027 (34.7 percent)
- Sex: 26,396 (29.5 percent)
- National origin: 9,438 (10.6 percent)
- Religion: 3,502 (3,8 percent)
- Color: 2,833 (3.2 percent)
- Retaliation: 39,757 (44.5 percent)
- Age: 20,144 (22.5 percent)
- Disability: 26,968 (30.2 percent)
- Equal Pay Act: 973 (1.1 percent)
- Genetic information: 257 (0.3 percent)
The percentages add up to more than 100 percent because some claims allege more than one kind of discrimination or harassment.
Some of the trends identified by the EEOC:
- Retaliation charges increased almost 5 percent from 2014 numbers. Retaliation has been the most common claim since 2009; before that it had been race discrimination on top for every year of the agency's half-century existence.
- Race discrimination remains the second most numerous kind of claim.
- Disability charges increased 6 percent and are the third largest type of claim.
- Harassment - a type of discrimination focused on how people are treated and hostile work environments - was named in about one-third of the claims of discrimination based on sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), race, age, disability, religion and national origin.
Clearly, and unfortunately, discrimination, harassment and retaliation are still major problems in U.S. workplaces. Any private or public employee experiencing such illegal treatment at work should speak with an attorney as early as possible to avoid missing sometimes-strict and fairly short deadlines that can apply in federal, state (and D.C.) or local agency complaints and lawsuits.
Finding legal counsel with extensive experience in employment discrimination law is important because of the complexity of the interaction between federal, state and local laws, government agencies and courts. There can be more than one choice of available legal remedies and a knowledgeable lawyer can assist the victim of discrimination in understanding the pros and cons of each option.
The attorneys at Alan Lescht & Associates, P.C., in Washington, D.C., fight to protect the civil rights of all employees in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia, and of federal employees anywhere in the nation and around the world.