Retaliation, race discrimination, and sex discrimination were the most commonly filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year. Under the law, it is illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise “retaliate” against an individual for complaining about or filing a charge of discrimination, or for participating in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).
In total, the agency received 88,778 private sector workplace discrimination charges during fiscal year 2014 (which runs from October 1 to September 30). The number of charges filed decreased compared with recent fiscal years, due in part to the government shutdown during the reporting period. Termination continued to be the most frequently-cited discriminatory issue, followed by allegations of harassment (for all protected classes except race).
Employment Discrimination Laws Enforced by the EEOC
The laws enforced by the EEOC apply to employers who meet the threshold number of employees for coverage. For example:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act apply to employers who have at least 15 employees in 20 or more weeks of the calendar year.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies to employers with 20 or more employees in 20 or more weeks of the calendar year.
- The Equal Pay Act does not require a minimum number of employees for an employer to be covered.
More information about each of these laws is featured in the section on Discrimination within the Client Resource Center HR Library.