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Retaliation Beats Racism
During 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 99,922 workplace discrimination charges — "an unprecedented level" according to the agency — and the greatest number of filings in its history.

According to the EEOC, all major categories of bias complaints increased, including charges under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Some experts say the rise is tied to the poor economy. "The uptick in EEOC complaints is directly correlated to the downtick in employment," said Loyola University professor Michael Zimmer in the New York Times. "For most of the private sector employees in this country who are at-will employees, the only way they can challenge their dismissal is by bringing a discrimination claim of some sort."

Besides the usual race, sex, religion, disability, age, and national origin harassment and bias charges, 2010 marked the first year the agency enforced the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In 2010, the EEOC received 201 charges under GINA.

Significantly, the type of misconduct that generated the most EEOC complaints changed in 2010. During that year, complaints of retaliation surpassed race-based complaints as the most frequently filed charge. Historically, race complaints have been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965.

Besides taking complaints, the EEOC also filed 250 new lawsuits, resolved 285 pending lawsuits, and settled 104,999 individual charges. Through its combined enforcement, mediation, and litigation programs, the EEOC collected more than $404 million from employers – the most money ever obtained administratively by the Commission in a single year.

For more details, see the EEOC's 2010 Enforcement and Litigation Statistics webpage.

For information on this topic, request:
5500 Overview of Discriminatory Conduct
7530 Non-Retaliation Laws & Individuals Protected
9512 Equal Employment Opportunity Poster

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