updated 2/9/2006 7:51:20 PM ET 2006-02-10T00:51:20

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed fewer charges of discrimination against private employers last year for the third straight year.

Commission chair Cari M. Dominguez said the commission's prevention efforts through outreach and training might be responsible but added that other factors, like the economic slowdown, might also be involved. "We are pleased to see that our proactive prevention efforts may be having an impact," she said.

Commission field offices filed 75,428 charges in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, down from 79,432, 81,293 and 84,442 in fiscal years 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively. The average complaint took 171 days to process in fiscal 2005.

During 2005, 77,352 discrimination complaints were resolved, 21.5 percent with a favorable outcome for the individual who complained, up from 19.5 percent the previous two years.

The commission obtained $380 million in compensation for those who complained of discrimination, including a record $271.6 million through mediation and other means short of going to court.

The type of complaints remained relatively unchanged from previous years: Allegations of racial discrimination remained the largest group, 26,740 charges accounting for 35.5 percent of all filings.

Sex discrimination accounted for 23,094 charges or 30.6 percent of all complaints; retaliation, 22,278 or 29.5 percent; age, 16,585 or 22 percent; disability, 14,893 or 19.7 percent; national origin, 8,035 or 10.7 percent; religion, 2,340 or 3.1 percent and equal pay, 970 or 1.3 percent. The total exceeds 100 percent because individuals may allege more than one kind of discrimination in a complaint.

In addition, there were 12,679 complaints of sexual harassment, 14 percent filed by men, and 4,449 pregnancy discrimination complaints.

EEOC enforces federal antidiscrimination laws among private employers. The Justice Department enforces those laws among government workers.

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