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Retaliation claims remain the most common EEOC filings

According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), California residents alleged fewer claims for workplace violations of their civil rights in 2017 than in previous years. The EEOC is in charge of regulating and enforcing federal laws against workplace harassment and discrimination for most employers. Golden State claims are in line with national numbers which have been trending downward since 2010.

Allegations of retaliation remain the most popular claim and were a component of 48.8% of all EEOC filings in fiscal year 2017, which ended in September. Employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees for making complaints or filing benefit claims under workers’ compensation or civil rights laws. Any backlash against employees can lead to retaliation claims. Since retaliation is a non-specific claim, it is often combined with other claims related to race, age, gender, religious or other discrimination. The EEOC helped workers recover $398 million from misbehaving employers in 2017. While overall numbers declined, gender-based claims saw a slight uptick in the percentage of overall complaints with 30.4% of the total alleging sexual harassment or gender-related discrimination.

EEOC numbers are instructive but only comprise part of the big picture. The federal agency does not have jurisdiction over small employers that are generally regulated by a number of state-level agencies. Small employers, for EEOC purposes, have fewer than fifteen (15) employees. While discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims are most common, Equal Pay Act violations comprise a small portion (1%) of EEOC claims.

In order to report or file claims based on inappropriate workplace environments or wrongful termination, employees must comply with strict timelines and procedures that are often much shorter than deadlines for filing other types of claims. Seeking advice from a qualified employment law attorney may provide concerned workers with guidance allowing them to make informed decisions about whether to pursue claims for mistreatment in the workplace.