The amount of awards provided by the EEOC this past year was the highest on record. It was also reported that monetary benefits for workplace discrimination awarded in 2011 was $360.6 million, and this was the highest in history. This was an increase of more than $40 million from 2010.
However, the EEOC also reported that the number of cases backlogged decreased during the past year. This is the first time that this has been a decrease in backlog since 2002. Though the agency stated there were close to 80,000 cases still pending, this was 10 percent less than cases pending in 2010.
That the EEOC was able to make such progress during a year when almost 100,000 cases were filed indicates that the agency has become more efficient at the processing of such claims. The EEOC stated that the number of claims made during 2011 was likely due to:
- Economic conditions
- Increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force
- Greater awareness of the laws on the part of employees
- Improvement in intake procedures
- Access to consumer services and public accessibility
Though this is good news for workers overall, there still is room for improvement. Part of the reason that the awards were the highest in history was because the number of claims made was also the highest in history. There are areas of employment discrimination being reported today such as age, gender and gender affiliation discrimination that may not have been reported in the past. This indicates that workplace discrimination continues to exist and likely will continue to exist into the future.
Source: Business Insurance, "Discrimination charges, awards set records while backlog reduced: EEOC," by Sonja Ryst, Nov. 16, 2011