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Job Discrimination Complaints Hit All-Time High

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

A sluggish economy and an increasingly diverse workforce led to a record number of EEOC job-discrimination complaints last year.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 99,947 workplace-discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2011, the agency reported Tuesday. That's up slightly over 2010.

The uptick in overall discrimination claims may correspond with a weak job market, an EEOC spokesman told MSNBC. And the trend may continue, the agency suggests in a new draft planning document that's up for public review.

"During more difficult economic times, the EEOC may see an increase in overall charges as more people are laid-off," the EEOC's draft Strategic Plan for 2012-16 states.

Some employers "may begin enacting policies to save time or money that have an unlawful disparate impact on certain protected groups," the draft Plan suggests.

The EEOC's own statistics may show the effects of those policies. Religious and national-origin discrimination claims rose about 5% and 10%, respectively, between 2010 and 2011, the EEOC reported.

"We're seeing more workers from India, Pakistan and other countries that bring additional religious complexity to the workforce," a former EEOC attorney now in private practice told the Associated Press.

Claims for age discrimination, disability discrimination, and workplace retaliation also rose slightly in 2011. But the EEOC saw slightly fewer claims for race and sex discrimination.

While the agency overall received more discrimination claims than ever in 2011, the EEOC also resolved 112,499 discrimination complaints in 2011 -- the highest number of resolutions in at least 14 years, the agency reported.

Victims received a settlement in about 18% of those EEOC discrimination claims, while two-thirds were found to be groundless, according to MSNBC.

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