Diversity & Inclusion

EEOC Reports Job Bias Claims at New Record

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that workplace discrimination charge filings increased 15 percent last year to an unprecedented level of 95,402. While the agency stated that it didn’t know if this was a trend, it was an indication of a persistent problem.

All of the main categories of charge filings with the EEOC increased, but the number of charges based on age and retaliation had the largest annual increase. In its report, the EEOC stated that the increase in filings may be attributable to many factors, “including economic conditions, increased diversity, and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of the law, the EEOC’s focus on systemic litigation and changes to EEOC’s intake practices.”

It’s believed that age discrimination incidents are probably underreported because many workers are reluctant to take action out of fear of retaliation. Others may waive their right to file charges against an employer in return for severance pay. But with today’s economic conditions, the need by workers to justify or secure compensation for job loss, and an administration committed to increased enforcement and worker protections, employers need to pay particular attention to worker claims.

Finally, an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case could result in even more age discrimination claims. The court announced it would decide whether employees may file a mixed-motive case rather than a pretext case without direct evidence of discrimination. In mixed-motive cases, an employee argues that an impermissible motive played a significant role in an adverse employment decision. The employee isn’t required to first establish a prima facie (initial) case of discrimination. The Supreme Court has already decided to allow mixed-motive cases without direct evidence under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, and religion.

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