A Rise of Discrimination in the Workplace

Feb 03, 2011
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Unemployment rate is high and on the minds of hundreds of individuals – specifically for those individuals who are out of work and those who are looking for jobs. For the disability population, the unemployment rate is higher. What is interesting is when the economy is bad, claims for workplace discrimination increases.

In 2010, disability related job bias claims rose to an all time record high. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handled 25,165 claims of workplace discrimination based on disability in fiscal year 2010, up 17 percent from 21,451 the previous year.

“Discrimination complaints typically rise during times of economic turmoil—2002 saw a similar increase following the 2001 downturn. Experts remain optimistic that workplace discrimination claims will fall as the economy heals.”

Also, the rise in workplace discrimination is not just solely from disability claims. Filings in all major categories of discrimination increased, including race, sex, age, disability and retaliation.

Last year was the first year ever that retaliation surpassed race as the most frequently cited charge. 2010 discrimination filings in the fiscal year jumped to 99,992, a figure the EEOC called “unprecedented.” That number was up from 93,277 in the same period in 2009.

“Because of the bad economy, many people are losing their jobs,” said Steven Wade, a lawyer who represents workers in discrimination suits at Chicago-based Anesi Ozmon Rodin Novak & Kohen Ltd. “In a good economy, those people may have moved on to another position and decided not to pursue what they believed was a legitimate discrimination claim because they felt they would find another position.”

“Discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many job seekers and workers, and we must continue to build our capacity to enforce the laws that ensure that workplaces are free of unlawful bias,” EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien said in a press release.


Author: Jenny Carlton