Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is applicable to all applicants and employees of most private employers, state and local governments, educational institutions, employment agencies and labor organizations. It prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, genetics, age, retaliation, or marital status.
Your workload may have increased significantly recently based on the sharp increase of EEO claims filed by applicants and employees. According to statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the number of claims of job discrimination filed with the agency has increased by nearly 33% over the last 5 years. A record number of claims – 99,922 charges – were filed in 2010.
Why the increase? There are a few reasons speculated as to the spike in claims:
- Weak job market
- New EEOC system, making it easier to file claims
- Current administration has taken a hands-on role in pushing workers’ rights
So does an increase in the number of claims result in an increase in settlements? Not necessarily, according to statistics from the EEOC. For claims filed in fiscal year 2010, just 19.2% of claims ended up with “merit resolutions” resulting in positive outcomes for complainants such as back pay, reinstatements of seniority and employment, or a job promotion. Out of the remaining 80.8% of cases, nearly 65% were dismissed and found to have no “reasonable cause.”
Keeping accurate records of applicants, tracking performance, accurate payroll records, and documentation of employee-related decisions are important safeguards when presenting the company’s defense should you be faced with a claim from the EEOC.