The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or “EEOC”) is charged with investigating and preventing instances of workplace discrimination. It is a wide mandate that covers a variety of discrimination types including: racial, national origin, color, sex, religion, age and disability. Workers may file an anonymous complaint and the EEOC will follow-up and investigate to see if there is any merit. If they find merit with the claim, then they prosecute and levy a fine against the employer.
In 2011, the EEOC received 99,947 charges of discrimination in the workplace. The two largest complaints were for sex discrimination, at 45.395 percent, and racial discrimination, at 28.534 percent. Employers are forbidden from retaliating against their employees for reporting instances of discrimination. In 2011, the employees reporting racial discrimination also reported 37,334 charges of retaliation by their employer due to the complaint.
Of the 99,947 complaint, 28,550 resulted in a tribunal. Not all complaints go to tribunal because some claims have no merit and others are settled beforehand. Concerning racial discrimination, only 4,800 claims resulted in a tribunal and of those claims, only 58 resulted in an award. This is around 1.2 percent of all racial discrimination claims resulting in a payout.
This is partially due to the fact that many claims have no merit however a large problem is that complainants do not have access to adequate representation. The EEOC was meant to level the playing field between workers and their employers however the reality is that workers need the help of an attorney to ensure that their complaints are heard.
If you believe that your employer discriminated against you then you may want to speak to an attorney. There are a few options available, you could file a lawsuit, a complaint with the EEOC or a complaint with your state agency. Regardless of what you choose to do, an attorney is a good person to have on your side. As you can see, many employers can push workers complaints around simply because they have attorneys. A lawyer is a good person to level the playing field, so your complaints are fairly heard.