In the most recent edition of Employment Answers Quarterly, Collins & Lacy Employment Practice Group Chair Christian Boesl addressed the trends revealed in the latest EEOC statistics:
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released new statistics outlining the types of charges filed in 2011. Overall, claims only rose by 25 new charges. That is the smallest rise in reported claims over the past six years according to the EEOC chart. However, digging a little deeper, the statistics show the type of claim with the highest percentage increase was retaliation. EEOC retaliation claims of all statues represents 37.4% of all charges filed with the agency, with the vast majority of retaliation claims being Title VII related (31.4%).
Retaliation has been one of the leading claims filed with the EEOC since 2009, bringing to the forefront the impact of Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Sheila White, 548 U.S. 53, 126 S. Ct. 2405 (U.S. 2006). In the 2006 decision of the United States Supreme Court, the gateway widened for a claim against an employer for violation of Title VII. No longer was an employee burdened to prove an actual violation of Title VII by an employer. Rather, the employee could now show through a much lower standard that the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee as a result of filing or participating in a claim filed with the EEOC alleging a violation of Title VII. In essence, the employer’s actions may not have ever reached a violation of Title VII, but if the employer altered, prohibited or changed an employee’s status who filed or participated in an EEOC claim, that employee has an actionable item against the employer.This latest EEOC report demonstrates employers are not only responsible for teaching employees how to prevent discrimination claims from arising, but they are also responsible for teaching employees how to handle a situation once it has manifested. Business owners need to ensure their employees and managers are properly trained so they do not become a new statistic for 2012 with respect to violation of an anti-retaliation provision of any Act.
Click here to view the breakdown of statistics provided by the EEOC.