Retaliation Charges Continue to Dominate Discrimination Lawsuits

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing our federal discrimination laws, yesterday released its litigation enforcement statistics for fiscal year 2014. The statistics confirm what we have all been observing: retaliation is the most frequently cited basis for discrimination lawsuits. A retaliation claim asserts that an employee was subjected to an adverse employment action due to having reported a complaint of discrimination. As we have noted before, a successful retaliation charge does not require that the underlying reported discrimination claim was true or unlawful, it only requires that the claimant can show an adverse action resulted from a report of discrimination.

The EEOC provided the following breakdown (percentages total more than 100 because lawsuits tend to include multiple charges):

    • Retaliation under all statutes: 37,955 (42.8 percent of all charges filed)
    • Race (including racial harassment): 31,073 (35 percent)
    • Sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment): 26,027 (29.3 percent)
    • Disability: 25,369 (28.6 percent)
    • Age: 20,588 (23.2 percent)
    • National Origin: 9,579 (10.8 percent)
    • Religion: 3,549 (4.0 percent)
    • Color: 2,756 (3.1 percent)
    • Equal Pay Act: 938 (1.1 percent) but note that sex-based wage discrimination can also be charged under Title VII’s sex discrimination provision
    • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 333 (0.4 percent)

Breaking down Washington state alone, retaliation is also the most frequently cited charge, but sex and race based discrimination are tied.

We continue to advise our clients to take all discrimination charges seriously and address them appropriately.  Our employment attorneys are able to assist you when these difficult issues arise.

About the Authors

Karen Kalzer

Ms. Kalzer practices employment and education law with an emphasis on defending complex litigation for communities of faith, non-profits, schools and private employers.

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