- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 72,675 workplace discrimination charges in its 2019 fiscal year, continuing a downward trend.
- Most categories of complaints, including sexual harassment, dropped; only two — those alleging color discrimination and equal pay act violations — increased.
- Retaliation remained the most frequent complaint, as it is often alleged in conjunction with age, race, disability and other claims.
The downward trend may be the result of a high demand for labor, experts said in evaluating 2018 numbers.
Still, employers should work to prevent such claims, attorneys said. HR can examine internal processes for handling harassment and discrimination complaints, as well as compensation practices, handbook policies and reporting mechanisms. Employers also can consider bias and anti-discrimination training for both employees and managers.
HR also may want to create a culture of accountability that encourages both victims and bystanders to speak up about discrimination and retaliation. Witnesses often are reluctant to report misconduct, research has shown. In a recent Randstad survey, half of workers said they did not take action after witnessing a colleague make an inappropriate comment to a person of the opposite sex. Employers may be able to combat such hesitation by improving preventative training measures and clarifying communication around workplace policies.