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Is workplace discrimination growing?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission publishes numbers for discrimination charges filed by individuals each year. While these numbers don't reflect all of the workplace discrimination occurrences -- many go unreported -- they do provide some insight on the trends of discrimination in the country.

A review of numbers from 1997 through 2015 indicates that reports over the past 20 years have risen somewhat, though the peak was in 2011. Since 2011, the number of reports has begun to trend downward, perhaps indicating a greater diversity and acceptance in the nation's work forces. Even so, in 2015 alone, over 89,000 people filed charges of discrimination through the EEOC.

Approximately a third of the individuals reporting discrimination believed they were being discriminated against based on their race and 29 percent said gender might have been a factor in the discrimination. Approximately 11 percent of individuals making reports believed their national origin was a reason they were being treated differently, but less than 4 percent said religion was a factor.

Alarmingly, in 44 percent of cases reported to the EEOC in 2015, employees felt they were being retaliated against for complaining about discrimination in the workplace. As many as 30 percent felt discrimination had to do with a disability and over 22 percent felt they were being treated unfairly because of their age.

These statistics show that discrimination is still a major problem in American workplaces. Not only is discrimination still present, it is present in a variety of forms. If you believe you are being discriminated against or have been retaliated against for reporting discrimination, then you have legal rights. Speak to an employment law professional to understand how to assert those rights.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Charge Statistics FY 1997 Through FY 2015," accessed July 01, 2016

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