U.S. discrimination complaints rise to record level

Chris Rizo Mar. 11, 2009, 4:56pm

Stuart Ishimaru

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Discrimination claims filed last year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rose to their highest level in the agency's history, officials said.

In all, 95,402 claims were filed during Fiscal Year 2008, marking a 15 percent increase over the previous 12-month period.

Officials said more than 34 percent of claims involved allegations of worker retaliation, while more than a quarter of the claims involved allegations of age discrimination.

The increase in filings during FY-2008, which ended Sept. 30, followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it easier for aggrieved workers to sue companies.

"The EEOC has not seen an increase of this magnitude in charges filed for many years," said acting EEOC Chairman Stuart Ishimaru. "While we do not know if it signifies a trend, it is clear that employment discrimination remains a persistent problem."

Ishimaru said the urge in complaints could be due to such factors as the nation's poor economic conditions and increased diversity in the U.S. work force.

A statement said the federal agency recovered $376 million for claimants last year. It filed 290 new lawsuits and resolved 339 suits and 81,081 non-litigation claims.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a group of 14 former and current Federal Express Corp. workers did not need to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before suing over alleged age discrimination.

The Supreme Court case involved Patricia Kennedy, a FedEx worker who claimed the company's pay and performance policies instituted in 1994 and 1995 discriminate against older workers.

The case was Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki, 06-1322.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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