Record 100K Bias Suits Filed With EEOC In 2011.
By Alejandra Cancino- Chicago Tribune reporter.
Employees filed nearly 100,000 discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal 2011, the highest number in the commission’s 46 year history, according to a report released Thursday by law firm Littler Mendelson P.C.
A portion of the report focused on systemic discrimination cases, which involve more than 20 victims. It found that in 40 percent of the investigations completed in this area, the commission determined it reasonable to conclude that the employers’ policies or practices were discriminatory.
“These statistics are disconcerting for employers,” Barry Hartstein, lead author of the report, said in a statement. “Reasonable cause determinations are typically issued in only five percent of charges that the EEOC investigates.”
Although the commission will continue fighting cases of systemic discrimination, the report says that the lawsuits filed by the commission have been subjected to close scrutiny. In two recent lawsuits, employers were awarded over $7 million in attorneys’ fees based on what the courts called “sue first, ask questions later litigation strategy,” according to the report.
Last fiscal year, the commission filed 261 merit-based suits against companies, 11 more than in fiscal year 2010. Of those, 84 had multiple victims and 23 were considered systemic. The leading cause for lawsuits was disability discrimination, followed by retaliation, sexual harassment and race discrimination.
The top five states where lawsuits were filed were California, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. Illinois was sixth, with 15 lawsuits.