At the beginning of the month we posted about the latest national data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The data reveals a record number of workplace discrimination charges filed with the agency in 2011.
According to a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, the employment landscape is not much different locally. EEOC data for South Florida was similar to the national numbers and included plenty of complaints related to race discrimination, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
While workplace discrimination is certainly nothing to celebrate, the increase in EEOC complaints might actually be a positive sign. According to the director of the EEOC's Miami district, the rise in complaint filings doesn't necessarily mean that workplace discrimination is on the rise. Rather, it likely speaks to the fact that "more people are becoming aware of their rights."
In other words, more employees than in the past are willing to report illegal employment practices.
Still, the high number of complaints does reveal that South Florida has a long way to go in order to achieve fairness and equality in the workplace. Workers in the region filed 5,263 workplace discrimination charges with the EEOC in 2011. Here is a rough breakdown of the charges:
- Race discrimination: 30 percent
- Gender discrimination: 30 percent
- Age discrimination: 23.2 percent
Local data also reveals that 40 percent of the charges were for retaliation against employees who complained about other policies or practices which were discriminatory.
Historically, some employees have been reluctant to speak up and speak out, despite the fact that these types of behaviors in the workplace are nearly always illegal and immoral. However, a squeezed job market combined with increased advocacy by the EEOC may be prompting more South Florida residents to stand up for their rights in the workplace.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "South Florida job discrimination charges set record," Marcia Heroux Pounds, Feb. 25, 2012