Jan. 24, 2012 at 11:37 AM ET
The government received more complaints of worker discrimination its last fiscal year than ever before, but it was only a slight increase over 2010.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Tuesday that it received 99,947 complaints of worker discrimination during its 2011 fiscal year, which ended in September. That’s an increase of 25 complaints over the 2010 fiscal year.
Discrimination complaints surged in the 2008 fiscal year, when the agency received 95,402 complaints as the Great Recession was getting under way. They number of complaints fell somewhat in 2009, the year the recession officially ended, but they rose again in 2010 as the economy was recovering slowly.
Justine Lisser, a spokeswoman for the EEOC, said the agency can’t say for certain that the weak job market has caused the spike in complaints, although there may be a correlation.
The unemployment rate remains unusually high, at 8.5 percent, more than two years after the recession officially ended and the economy began growing again.
Lisser also noted the agency has been working harder to inform employees and employers about its claims process, and has made it easier to research claims criteria on its website.
In 2011, about 35 percent of the workers complained of race discrimination, according to the EEOC. Gender discrimination accounted for about 29 percent of the complaints, while age discrimination complaints made up about 24 percent.
About 26 percent charged employers with discriminating on the basis of a disability.
Many people charge more than one form of discrimination, so the percentages exceed 100 percent.
The government also said it resolved 112,499 complaints in fiscal year 2011. About 18 percent of those claims received a “merit resolution,” meaning the person received some sort of settlement.
About two-thirds of those were found to have no reasonable cause for auction. Another 16 percent were closed for administrative reasons, such as that the person who charged discrimination didn’t respond to further requests from the EEOC.
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