The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released their statistics from 2010. The numbers don't look good for employers. Discrimination lawsuits have risen for the last three years in a row, and 2010 set a new record.
The report states that US companies have seen more than 99,000 discrimination charges this year. This adds up to over $319 million in damages. According to a human resources organization's analysis, there are several reasons why discrimination lawsuits have risen so sharply.
The first reason is that congress has widened the powers of the Americans With Disabilities Act. More Americans can now file a lawsuit if they feel that they were not hired because of their disability.
The second reason is another piece of legislation called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This law removes the statute of limitations on lawsuits regarding unfair pay. Workers who feel that they were given unfair wages can file a claim years after the fact. Such cases could be adding substantially to this year's total number of discrimination claims.
Finally, with the economy in a downturn jobs are scarce. Americans are more likely to fight in court to keep a job if they feel they have been victims of discrimination.
Employers can take hope, however. The human resources organization has offered two important ways in which companies can protect themselves against these lawsuits. First, employers must know the rules and follow them very carefully. All managers need to be properly trained to handle worker complaints. If not, the company might be liable.
Employers should also make an effort to inform employees of their rights. In the event of a court proceeding employers have more credibility when they show they have been honest and open with employees. That same honesty also goes a long way with employees and usually makes them less likely to file a discrimination lawsuit.
Times are tough, both for employees and companies. When office tensions are high a lawsuit might be in a company's future. If employers take the time to understand employment laws and procedures, they can avoid these lawsuits through open and honest communication.
Source: HRMorning.com, "EEOC stats reveal disturbing trend for employers," Tim Gould, 16 December 2010