Fall in U.S. discrimination complaints


Discrimination charges against private employers in the United States declined in 2005 for the third consecutive year, according to figures from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Some 75,428 charges were filed at EEOC field offices throughout the country in the year ending September 30 2005, a five per cent fall on the previous year.

The agency is responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws across the U.S. private sector. The Department of Justice enforces the federal legislation for public sector workers.

Claims of racial discrimination made up the largest number of cases, accounting for 36 per cent of all complaints, followed closely by gender discrimination complaints (31 per cent) and complaints alleging retaliation by employers because of an employee's complaint (30 per cent).

The figures revealed that 14 per cent of sexual harassment charges were filed by men.

More than one in five cases (22 per cent) alleged age discrimination, while other complaints included discrimination on the basis of religion (three per cent), national origin (almost 11 per cent), and disability (19 per cent).

"We are pleased to see that our proactive prevention efforts may be having an impact on the decrease in charges," said EEOC Chair, Cari M. Dominguez.

But she said that other factors may also have played a par in the decline, including the economic cycle.

The EEOC resolved 77,352 complaints in 2005, with more than one in five (21.5 per cent) of those outcomes in favour of the complainant - a higher percentage than in years past. In contrast, only 7,908 cases were resolved through mediation.

It also field 383 lawsuits, resolved 337 merits suits, and obtained $107.7 million in litigation monetary benefits.

In total, the agency won nearly $380 million in monetary relief for charging parties through enforcement and litigation combined, including a record $271.6 million at the pre-litigation stage (including $115 million through mediation).