EEOC Retaliation Claims Reach Highest Percentage Ever

Of all EEOC charges, employer retribution is cited most often

By Dana Wilkie February 5, 2015

The percentage of charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in fiscal 2014 that alleged workplace retaliation was the highest the commission has ever recorded, according to an EEOC press release.

More than 2 in 5 of the charges that the EEOC received in that year (42.8 percent) alleged some form of retaliation against an employee for pursuing discrimination claims. And for the fifth year running, retribution accounted for the largest percentage of all discrimination claims, beating out claims of race, sex, age and disability discrimination.

Those findings were among the statistics that the EEOC recently released on the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination that it received from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014.

A spokeswoman for the EEOC, which released its annual statistical report on Feb. 4, 2015, could not say why retaliation has become the most frequently filed charge in the past few years.

Retaliation overtook race as the most frequently filed charge in fiscal 2010. In that year, 35.9 percent of charges alleged race discrimination, while 36.3 percent alleged retaliation.

“Since an individual may make multiple allegations—for example, [they] could allege race, sex and pregnancy discrimination—when they file a charge, it counts as one charge, even with multiple allegations,” said EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazer. “So, 42.8 percent of all private-sector charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal 2014 alleged retaliation, but they could also allege [discrimination on] other bases, too.”

Said EEOC chairwoman Jenny Yang in a statement: “Behind these numbers are individuals who turned to the EEOC because they believe that they have suffered unlawful discrimination. The EEOC remains committed to meaningful resolution of charges and strategic enforcement to eliminate barriers to equal employment opportunity.”

Yang has made retaliation enforcement a focus during her term. During a September 2014 interview with SHRM Online, she said she was concerned about the high numbers of employers who retaliate against workers who pursue discrimination claims. She said one antidote might be for the EEOC to work more closely with the business community “so we can understand how [to] foster broad and sustained compliance … and also raise awareness in the employee community that they do have protections.”

The same report found that the number of charges filed decreased compared with recent fiscal years, due in part to the government shutdown during the reporting period.

The report also includes charges by state. The greatest number of charges were filed in Texas (8,035), followed by Florida (7,528) and California (6,363).

Also included in the report were statistics on the following types of discrimination claims:

● Race, including racial harassment, accounted for 31,073 charges (35 percent of all charges).

● Sex, including pregnancy and sexual harassment: 26,027 (29.3 percent).

● Disability: 25,369 (28.6 percent).

● Age: 20,588 (23.2 percent).

● National origin: 9,579 (10.8 percent).

● Religion: 3,549 (4.0 percent).

● Color: 2,756 (3.1 percent).

● Equal Pay Act: 938 (1.1 percent). Sex-based wage discrimination can also be charged under the sex discrimination provision of Title VII.

● Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act: 333 (0.4 percent).

The percentages add up to more than 100 percent because some charges allege multiple bases, such as discrimination on the basis of race and color, or sex and retaliation.

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.



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