EEOC reports record number of discrimination filings for FY 2011

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released fiscal year 2011 statistics, compiled in its annual Performance and Accountability Report (PAR). The EEOC handled a record 99,947 discrimination charges in fiscal year 2011 (ending September 30) -- the highest number in the agency's 46-year history. The EEOC also recovered more than $364.6 million in monetary benefits for victims of workplace discrimination -- again, the highest level in the agency's history. The fiscal year ended with 78,136 pending charges, a 10 percent decrease from FY 2010 (and the first such reduction since 2002).

Race charges were the most common claims filed in 2011 (36%), followed by sex (29%), disability (25%) and then age (23%). National origin, religion and Equal Pay Act claims all registered less than 5% of all charges filed.

“I am proud of the work of our employees and believe this demonstrates what can be achieved when we are given resources to enforce the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

The major takeaway in all this? Be especially diligent about training your employees and managers on proper, non-discriminatory behavior and document, document, document. The bad economy may be driving the bump in discriminatory charges. And unless the economy picks up in 2012, this trend may continue.

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