On January 24, the EEOC reported that it received 99,947 complaints of workplace-discrimination in 2011, the highest number of complaints ever reported. Though the numbers are up only slightly from 2010, the EEOC believes the upswing may continue, in part due to a weak job market. The EEOC’s draft Strategic Plan for 2012-16 suggests that “During more difficult economic times, the EEOC may see an increase in overall charges as more people are laid-off.” 

Two categories of complaints on the rise are those involving religious and national-origin discrimination. Religious discrimination claims increased about 5% between 2010 and 2011 according to the EEOC, and national-origin discrimination claims increased about 10%. Slightly less claims of race and sex discrimination were made in 2011 as compared to 2010. 

While employers may be concerned by the high number of complaints, it should also be noted that the EEOC resolved more discrimination complaints in 2011 than it has in at least 14 years, with victims receiving settlements only in approximately 18% of EEOC claims.