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If workplace discrimination is illegal, why is it still a problem?

| Jun 24, 2020 | Employment Law |

By now, nearly every employer in this country is aware that discrimination on the job is illegal — but that doesn’t seem to stop it from happening.


The answer may be in the statistics: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives more than 100,000 discrimination complaints, but victims only receive assistance in about 18% of those cases. If a complaint involves racial discrimination, the stats are even more foreboding: Only about 15% of those claims eventually result in either compensation or money for the victims.

Complaint data reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity shows an absolutely dismal pattern of failure by the EEOC to be effective. When cases from 2010-2017 were reviewed, the Center found that most claims were closed without any real investigation at all. In some cases, employers were merely asked if the complaints were valid — and that’s about all.

In essence, the EEOC simply doesn’t have the means to manage so many claims. Its budget has shrunk over the decades, as has its staff. Now, the agency has about 42% fewer workers than it once did. Meanwhile, there are about 50% more workers out there in the labor force.

Even if the EEOC weren’t virtually toothless, it’s unlikely that it could put an end to workplace discrimination altogether. Despite the many claims that make it to the EEOC, that’s probably only a fraction of the number that could (or should) be made.

Workplace discrimination can happen at any point in someone’s career. It can even occur during the hiring process and affect who gets a job. Later, it can affect whether or not someone gets a promotion, is given a favorable assignment, a promotion and more. If you’ve been victimized by discrimination in your workplace and it doesn’t seem like the EEOC will help, find out what steps you can take to obtain compensation for your losses.