The EEOC just released its charge statistics for 2010, including historical data back to 1997. A few obvious things jump out at me. First, it’s a new record! In 2010 the EEOC received approximately 100,000 charges. Every single category, or basis for discrimination, saw an increase when compared to 2009. This year also marked the first year for GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) with a mere 201 charges.
The EEOC also included a note which stuck out to me:
The number for total charges reflects the number of individual charge filings. Because individuals often file charges claiming multiple types of discrimination, the number of total charges for any given fiscal year will be less than the total of the eight types of discrimination listed.
So I started wondering… is there any trend in how many types (or bases) of discrimination are being included in each individual charge? When I plotted the data, it turns out there’s an obvious trend:
From 1997 to 2010, the average number of types of discrimination included in each individual charge steadily rose from 1.43 to 1.66, an increase of 16%. For employers, this means a more complicated defense. It means discrimination charges are starting to include more types of discrimination. As the chart makes clear, the number has been steadily increasing over the years and I see no reason for this trend to stop.
Update (1/13/2011): I received an inquiry regarding my calculations so I am updating this entry to include my methodology so as to make clear what the chart actually depicts. I used the statistics provided by the EEOC (linked above). I calculated the sum of all of the rows for each year, excluding Total and Retaliation - Title VII Only (the latter would already be included in the row Retaliation - All). I then took the sum and divided it by the “Total” which the EEOC defined as “individual charge filings” to arrive at the average number of charges per individual charge filing.
Phil Miles is an attorney in McQuaide Blasko’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group and publisher of Lawffice Space, an employment law blog.