According to a recent report in the Birmingham News, workplace discrimination claims in Alabama hit a record high in 2011. This report corresponds with numbers published by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). During the course of 2011, the EEOC reported the following incidents:
“In Alabama last year, racial bias accounted for more than half of the 3,099 EEOC complaints filed (1,602, or 51.7 percent). Sex discrimination charges made up 29.5 percent of EEOC charges filed in Alabama, followed by disability bias complaints (20.1 percent) and age discrimination (18.3 percent). About one-third of Alabama EEOC complaints last year involved allegations of retaliation in the workplace.”
The EEOC acquired millions of dollars to handle such cases through mediation efforts and litigation.
However, in 2012, so far there seem to be fewer occurrences of workplace discrimination cases being filed. Many believe this downtick corresponds with Alabama’s falling unemployment rate.
In December, the Alabama unemployment rate declined from last year’s double digit stance to 8.1 percent.
It is interesting to note the continuum between the number of Title VII complaints and the number of jobs available. It certainly begs the question of whether employees are exposed to an increase in discrimination when there are fewer jobs, or if discrimination complaints have become an alternative income source when jobs aren’t available. Given the fee shifting mechanics of Title VII cases, it is my belief that many are filed simply to extract from the employer a “cost of defense” settlement, especially in a rotten economy. However, given the “me too” disease that settlements of bogus claims can cause within a large organization, many employers have learned to take a hardened stance against the shakier variety of Title VII claims.
Johnston Firm, P.C.