On March 5, 2008, the EEOC announced that employment discrimination charges increased by nine percent in 2007. This represents the largest one-year increase since 1993. Race discrimination continued to be the most commonly filed charge, followed by retaliation charges, which, for the first time, surpassed sex/gender discrimination charges. Employers also faced a record 5,587 pregnancy discrimination charges – 14 percent more than the prior record, which was set in 2006. In fact, most of the major charge categories saw double-digit percentage increases in 2007. As a result of these large increases, the EEOC recovered $345 million in monetary relief for charging parties, a 26 percent increase over the amount recovered in 2006.
These statistics can be explained just as easily by a heightened awareness of the law among employees, an increasingly diverse workforce, and increased job cuts as a result of a slow economy as by an actual rise in workplace discrimination and/or retaliation. Nevertheless, EEOC Chair Naomi Earp suggested that the statistics show that “[c]orporate America needs to do a better job of proactively preventing discrimination and addressing complaints promptly and effectively.”