Discrimination claims near all-time high

Workplace discrimination charges filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hit the second highest level ever in 2009, according to statistics from the agency. There were 93,277 employment discrimination charges last year. Awards to workers came to more than $376 million.

A number of factors appear to be coming together to create a “perfect storm” of discrimination claims, including:

  • A poor economy with many layoffs. When employees are laid off, they often claim that the employer used illegal bias in the job elimination process.
  • A new federal disabilities law. The recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act have dramatically increased the number of people who may be considered “disabled” and entitled to protection under the law.
  • More enforcement. The EEOC’s budget increased by $15 million in 2009, a rise of about 4 percent. And President Obama has proposed an additional $40 million increase in fiscal 2010, which would bring the total to $367 million.