According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, there may be some good news for workers in Indiana and across the country. During 2019, the federal agency received 72,675 complaints about workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment. This number marks a continued decrease in the number of complaints filed about employment discrimination, potentially pointing to an environment in which more workplaces are inclusive and respectful. However, there were increases in complaints alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act, a form of sex discrimination, as well as workplace discrimination based on skin color.
One of the most common issues expressed in complaints also raises concerns that the EEOC’s figures do not fully reflect the breadth of problems workers experience on the job. Retaliation is the most frequently cited issue, retaliation being when workers are punished or even lose their jobs after reporting or complaining about workplace discrimination or sexual harassment. Fear of retaliation prevents many employees from reporting unlawful treatment in the workplace or to the EEOC. For workers who desperately need their jobs, the potential threat of firing for reporting discrimination may keep them silent, despite the fact that retaliation is just as illegal as the initial discriminatory behavior.
Analysts say that when unemployment decreases, so do the number of EEOC complaints. Because more jobs are available, people who are mistreated at work find it easier to leave their jobs and seek new employment rather than pursuing a complaint. However, this may also mean that workers become more vulnerable to discrimination and harassment in a troubled economy or in areas where unemployment is higher.
Many workers continue to face employment discrimination based on protected characteristics, including professionals or executives. People who have experienced unlawful discrimination in the workplace may consult with an employment law attorney about how they can take action to seek justice.