Despite legal protections, most workers who face discrimination are on their own

Source: Maryam Jameel, Joe Yerardi, Center for Public Integrity, February 28, 2019

Thousands of people report workplace discrimination to the government each year. Employers are rarely held accountable. ….

…. To understand how well the nation protects victims of employment discrimination, the Center for Public Integrity analyzed eight years of complaint data — through fiscal 2017 — from the EEOC as well as its state and local counterparts, reviewed hundreds of court cases and interviewed dozens of people who filed complaints.

What emerged is a picture of a system that routinely fails workers.

No group of employees alleging discrimination — age, gender, disability or otherwise — fares well. Race claims are among the most commonly filed and have the lowest rate of success, with just fifteen percent receiving some form of relief.

Workers file complaints with the EEOC under penalty of perjury. The agency closes most of them without concluding whether discrimination occurred. Sometimes, workers’ lawyers say, an EEOC investigation involves no more than asking the employer for a response.

A key part of the issue, according to experts and former EEOC employees, is that the agency doesn’t have the resources for its mammoth task. The EEOC has a smaller budget today than it did in 1980, adjusted for inflation, and 42 percent less staff. At the same time, the country’s labor force increased about 50 percent, to 160 million. ….