The media have recently reported an increase in the number of discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On the surface it would appear to be alarming, but there is a simple explanation if you look at the historical data on EEOC filings.
In the graph below, you will notice that the number of filings with the EEOC correlate neatly with the U.S. unemployment rate. As the economy goes into a recession or downturn we can expect to see an uptick in charges filed because there are more unhappy employees or former employees. When times are good, people are generally happy. When times are bad, people aren’t.
To get an accurate picture of what’s really happening in the workplace you have to look at the number of cases that actually have merit. In 2009, 95 percent of cases were found not to have any merit by the EEOC. While the 2010 percentage is as yet unknown, my belief is it will be higher than 95 percent.
Excel chart and spreadsheet here.