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EEOC: Economy causing increase in charges

Discrimination claims lodged against private employers rose 15% from the previous fiscal year, says the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In FY 2008, which ended Sept. 30, workplace discimrination charge filings soared to an unprecedented level of 95,402. According to the surge in filings may be due, in part, to current economic conditions. Small businesses are generally covered by discrimination laws.

According to the FY 2008 data, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector (which includes charges filed against state and local governments) increased. Charges based on age and retaliation saw the largest annual increases, while allegations based on race, sex ,and retaliation continued as the most frequently filed charges. The increase in charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of the law, EEOC’s focus on systemic litigation, and changes to EEOC’s intake practices.

The FY 2008 data also show that the EEOC filed 290 lawsuits, resolved 339 lawsuits, and resolved 81,081 private-sector charges. Through its combined enforcement, mediation and litigation programs, the EEOC recovered approximately $376 million in monetary relief for thousands of discrimination victims and obtained significant remedial relief from employers to promote inclusive and discrimination-free workplaces.

• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cover employers with 15 or more employees. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) covers employers with 20 or more employees and bars discrimination against older workers.

• Equal Pay Act (EPA) covers virtually all employers, who must abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It prohibits sex-based discrimination in wages.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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