Monday, November 2, 2009
Not so says the EEOC. From the National Law Journal:
Many of Burwell's clients who attended the breakfast are facing EEOC charges, some for the first time. "A lot of people had questions" for the agency, said Josephine Avery, vice president of human resources of the Motor City Casino Hotel, who attended the breakfast. It was "a good opportunity to hear what they had to say."
And what did the EEOC say? "We're not the big bad government coming after them, and we truly do want to forge a partnership [with employers], but we have to enforce these laws," said Deborah Barno, the supervisory trial attorney in the Detroit EEOC office, noting that the jobless are seeking legal redress like never before. "Our lobby is full every day, and mailed-in charges are increasing even more." The Detroit office of the EEOC alone has 2,500 complaints pending before it — 25% more than it had pending at the start of the recession in 2007.
Welcome to the world of employers under siege. Discrimination complaints from their former and current employees are flooding into the EEOC and similar state agencies. Management lawyers are getting their desperate calls. And the lawyers anticipate that, by the end of 2009, the number of claims will look even worse.
From 2007 — the recession first started in December of that year — to the end of 2008, overall claims filed with the EEOC increased by 28%, from 83,000 to 95,000. Discrimination claims jumped by 28%, and retaliation charges — what lawyers call the hottest charge these days — jumped by 22% last year, from 27,000 to 33,000 claims. The EEOC does not have numbers yet for 2009.
Clearly, the EEOC is receiving more complaints because of the economic recession, but are the EEOC regional offices pro-employee too much? I would be interested in readers comments on their notions from both sides of the bar.