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EEOC receives record number of discrimination complaints in 2011

In Greenbelt and throughout the metro D.C. area, workplace discrimination is not the same issue that it once was--it exists, but it has evolved. Companies do not often publicly fire a worker because she is a woman or because he has a disability, as this type of blatant discrimination has become unpopular over time. But, discrimination still plays an unfortunate role in hiring and firing decisions as well as daily life in the workplace.

Such was evidenced by the record number of complaints that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received in 2011. The agency took in 99,947 complaints, almost 40 percent of which pertained to retaliation. Race and sex discrimination accounted for the second and third highest numbers of complaints.

In 2011, for the second year in a row, the EEOC took in a record number of discrimination complaints. Both federal and state laws protect employees and job applicants from being treated unfairly by employers on the basis of race, age, sex, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and family status or marital status.

The EEOC specifically pursues charges related to employee rights' violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination law.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 bans employers from practicing discrimination on the basis of family medical history or genetic information. Last year, during the first full fiscal year the EEOC fielded complaints under this law, 245 charges were filed.

Workplace discrimination often arises in unfair hiring practices, differential treatment of employees, disparities in promotions, salary and raise decisions, violations of the Family Medical Leave Act, and wrongful termination.

Source: The Sacramento Business Journal, "EEOC gets record number of complaints; many were retaliation," Kathy Robertson, Feb. 1, 2012

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