Workplace discrimination based on the protected statuses of workers has been illegal in the U.S. for decades. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and applicants based on their protected statuses or their relationships with members of protected groups. States also have anti-discrimination laws, and some of these laws provide broader protection to workers. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your protected characteristics in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand your rights and the remedies that might be available to you. Understanding the prevalence of workplace discrimination in the U.S. can give you a better idea of the extent of this problem. Paychex analyzed data from complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 1997 to 2018 to provide an overview of employment discrimination in the U.S.
Between 1997 and 2018, 1,889,631 discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most complaints fell into the categories of retaliation, race discrimination, disability discrimination, and sex discrimination. Among the complaints that were filed, 64% were dismissed by the EEOC after the agency investigated and found that they were unsubstantiated. Another 18% were administratively closed. The EEOC reports that reasons, why cases might be closed administratively, include when the employee decides that he or she no longer wishes to pursue the case, requests the complaint to be withdrawn, or poor communication.
Discrimination complaints in the states
In the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, 916,623 discrimination charges were filed. The highest rates of complaints of discrimination happened in the South. States with the highest rates of discrimination complaints per 100,000 residents included the following:
- Alabama – 62.2 complaints per 100,000 people
- Mississippi – 60.8 complaints per 100,000 people
- Arkansas – 51.7 complaints per 100,000 people
- Georgia – 50.3 complaints per 100,000 people
During that period in New Jersey, the state had a rate of 18.6 discrimination complaints per 100,000 people. In Pennsylvania, the rate was 33.9 complaints per 100,000 residents.
The most common type of discrimination charge that is filed with the EEOC is based on race discrimination. However, race discrimination claims had the lowest success rate at 15%. The states with the lowest rates of discrimination complaints from 2009 and 2018 included Maine with 2.5 complaints per 100,000 people, New Hampshire with 4.0 complaints per 100,000 people, and Idaho and Nebraska with 4.3 complaints each per 100,000 people.
In addition to having the highest rate of complaints per 100,000 residents, Alabama had the highest rates of complaints about race and color discrimination, sex discrimination, and equal pay complaints. Alabama does not have a law prohibiting pay discrimination for women, however. The pay discrimination complaints in the state are filed with the EEOC under the federal Equal Pay Act.
New Mexico also had a high number of complaints filed about pay discrimination, age discrimination, and national origin discrimination.
Types of prohibited employment discrimination
Discrimination in the workplace is illegal when it is based on the protected status of an employee or applicant. IT happens when a worker or applicant is discriminated against based on the following protected statuses:
Some states also protect other classes beyond the federally protected classes.
When discrimination is prohibited at work
Discrimination based on a worker’s protected status is prohibited in all aspects of the employment relationship. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees in advertising jobs, applications, interviewing, making job offers, salaries, promotions, opportunities for training, discipline, layoffs, and terminations. Employers may not make assumptions based on stereotypical beliefs about members of protected groups. They also cannot engage in adverse job actions based on an employee’s relationship with a member of a protected group. For example, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because he or she is married to a person who is of a different religion. It is similarly illegal to harass employees based on their protected statuses.
The prohibitions against workplace discrimination in the U.S. under federal and state law are meant to prevent it from occurring. Unfortunately, discrimination is a continuing problem in spite of the laws. Employers are likewise prohibited from retaliating against workers for filing discrimination complaints or for cooperating with an investigation of another worker’s discrimination charge. Workers may file discrimination charges with the EEOC or with a related state agency. An employment law attorney can help workers to gather the evidence that will be needed to support their complaints and to file them correctly.
Number of complaints filed with the EEOC in the fiscal year 2019
According to the EEOC, the agency received the following numbers of complaints about each type of prohibited discrimination:
- Retaliation – 39,110
- Gender discrimination – 23,532
- Race discrimination – 23,976
- Disability discrimination – 24,238
- Age discrimination -15,573
- National origin discrimination – 7.009
- Color discrimination – 3,415
- Religious discrimination – 2,725
- Pay discrimination – 1,117
- Genetic information discrimination – 209
Get help from Swartz Swidler
If you believe that your employer has engaged in illegal workplace discrimination based on your membership in a protected group, you should talk to the legal team at Swartz Swidler. We can review what happened and provide you with a fair assessment of the merits of your claim. If we believe that you have valid grounds to file a complaint, we can guide you through the process and help you to understand the types of evidence that you might need to submit. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 856.685.7420 or by filling out our contact form.