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EEOC Sees Rise In Discrimination Charges

Volume 7, Issue 2
March 12, 2008

On March 5, 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a press release and statistics noting, for 2007, the largest annual increase in charges of discrimination since the early 1990s -- nine percent (9%). Continuing a trend of many years, charges most frequently allege race discrimination, sex discrimination, and retaliation. EEOC's Chair contends "Corporate America" is responsible for the increase, and "needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively." Clearly, as most employers know, mere allegations of discrimination or retaliation do not, alone, demonstrate that businesses are discriminating more. What should be of concern to employers is EEOC's activism, demonstrated by the 27% increase in monetary relief EEOC has obtained:

  • $55 million obtained from EEOC litigation against employers.
  • $290 million through administrative enforcement -- including monies obtained by claimants under the much-touted mediation program.

EEOC reports a record 8,649 charges resolved through the mediation program, a five percent (5%) increase from 2006 - a number equal to more than ten percent (10%) of the charges filed in 2007. The Commission also reports an increase in the use of Universal Agreements to Mediate with employers. While this demonstrates that companies more frequently use this form of alternative dispute resolution, EEOC claims these mediation resolutions within the "monetary relief" obtained through "the Commission's" administrative enforcement. Indeed, EEOC also reports a "historic" high in the "merit factor" of resolutions of charges. However, this also counts mediation (where there is no finding of discrimination) and other settlements and cause findings. What is clear for Nevada employers is this:

  • Charges are increasing nationwide for the second year -- and with Nevada's ever-increasing workforce and a relatively new Las Vegas EEOC Office, companies will continue to see more charges filed.
  • The EEOC's mediation program is becoming more commonly used. Mediation is not always offered, but is a less expensive solution when available.
  • EEOC is very active in identifying charges early-on in the process for intense investigation and with the potential for "cause" findings, continuing a trend that places Nevada employers at risk.

For additional information, see http://www.eeoc.gov/press/3-5-08.html.

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