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Latest EEOC data shows that retaliation is common in the workplace

South Florida residents are currently facing plenty of work-related challenges. For example, last week we mentioned that Florida's long-term unemployment numbers are ranked the highest in the nation.

But there is still more to be concerned about. While it may be hard to believe, it seems that reports of discrimination in the workplace are multiplying. According to data recently released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the number of employment discrimination charges filed in 2011 reached record numbers. Topping the list were complaints related to retaliation.

In all, the EEOC received just shy of 100,000 work-related discrimination complaints last year. Of these, retaliation charges accounted for 37.4 percent, or approximately 37,334 complaints.

Also high on the EEOC's list of complaints were several other types of discrimination. In order, the top five most frequent complaints of 2011 include:

  • Retaliation: 37.4 percent
  • Race Discrimination: 35.4 percent
  • Gender Discrimination: 28.5 percent
  • Disability Discrimination: 25.7 percent
  • Age Discrimination: 23.4 percent

Since these numbers add up to more than 100 percent, it seems likely that there was some overlap among charges. For instance, an employee who was fired for being perceived as too old could conceivably file both a retaliation complaint and an age discrimination complaint.

Human resources managers may be able to help businesses bring down the number of these complaints by teaching employers to be more responsive and sensitive to the needs of workers.

One employment attorney recently noted that, "It's important for employers to be reviewing each illness and injury situation with an eye toward violation of family and medical leave laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and comparable state Fair Employment and Housing Act and workers' compensation leave laws."

It is unfortunate that discrimination is so common in the workplace. Thankfully, however, this record number of complaints also suggests that an increasing number of employees are willing to stand up for their rights at work.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal, "EEOC gets record number of complaints; many were retaliation," Kathy Robertson, Feb. 1, 2012

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