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Discrimination complaints overloading the EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) serves as the nation's watchdog and as its prosecutor of illegal workplace discrimination. However, the entity it is currently scrutinizing is not a business organization or any other private enterprise. According to a recent EEOC report, the federal government fell down on the job last year in several specific respects related to workplace discrimination.

The news is not all negative. In 2011, the federal government both hired more workers with disabilities and responded to their needs in the workplace in a far more efficient and productive manner than it had in the past. However, it failed to address the concerns of other protected groups related to harassment, retaliation and other forms of discrimination as effectively.

Though the number of work-related discrimination complaints filed against the federal government fell by 3.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, certain kinds of complaints were not addressed as effectively as they should have been.

For example, race-related discrimination complaints remained high. Complaints were also numerous in the categories of age and retaliation. In addition, complaints filed by newly hired individuals have skyrocketed an astonishing 30 percent over the last five years.

What is perhaps most disturbing is that just short of 75 percent of investigated complaints were considered "timely completed," according to the report. This number would drop to just 65 percent if investigations involving postal workers were excluded from analysis.

Workers employed by the federal government do a service to the rest of society. When they are discriminated against or otherwise harmed, they deserve to have a timely investigation and to be treated with respect during the process. Hopefully this coming year will mark significant improvement in these areas by the government and those who serve it.

Source: Fierce Government, "EEOC: Government still wrestles with employment complaint resolution," Geoff Whiting, Oct. 15, 2012

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