expert consultants for employment discrimination lawsuits

Employment discrimination lawsuits are on the rise in the United States – it’s an attention-grabbing headline that has some interesting background data to support it. Even if you have never been directly exposed to employment discrimination, the term alone likely invokes notions of prejudice in the workplace.

When we claim that U.S. employment discrimination lawsuits are rising fast, we do not mean that there are more and more instances of actual discrimination occurring every year. Instead, it is more accurate to say that more employment discrimination cases are being reported now than ever before. As we detail here, that reporting can be tied to the ever-increasing publicization of discrimination claims in the workplace through traditional news and social media.

If we look at data from the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alone, we find that cases of numerous types of employment discrimination reached new highs between 2008 and 2012 before falling slightly. However, from the mid-to-late 2010s, the EEOC reported that the numbers of discrimination cases it received yearly were rising once again.

Why is this?

3 Reasons Employment Discrimination Cases Are Rising

We know since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, discrimination on the basis of race has been illegal in American workplaces. Over time, additional areas where discrimination has been claimed—for example, on the basis of gender, age, national origin, religion, pregnancy, disability, and other employee characteristics—have contributed to a trend of increased litigation and agency activity.  Most recently, pay equity among men and women and among minority and non-minority employees has garnered attention and promises future litigation.  Let’s look at three factors leading to an increase in reported employment discrimination.

1. More People Are Aware of Discrimination Claims

In the late 2010s, American news outlets report discrimination cases at an extremely high rate. In 2017 alone, the New York Times reported more than 1,600 stories with “discrimination” somewhere in the title, while the Washington Post reported more than 2,000 such stories. Obviously, people who read these stories become aware of the forms that employment discrimination claims can take as well as the repercussions for employers found guilty of illegally discriminating.  Additionally, it is commonplace in many workplaces to provide employees with training courses in discrimination and harassment. Being more knowledgeable, in turn, increases the chances that an employee will file a discrimination case.

2. Increased Publicizing of Incidents

Consider an employment discrimination claim filed in, say, 1970. The employee’s family and friends might hear about it, as well as any lawyer hired, but few others would be aware of the claim.

Today, an employee has only to allege discrimination on social media and a significant portion of the country can become aware of it. Just by searching the right hashtags, social media users can encounter people they have never met who may experience, perhaps, similar workplace issues. According to The Balance Careers, these encounters can make people feel as though their own perceived discrimination issues are more common than they thought.

3. Retaliation Claim Rates are Rising Dramatically

Suppose a supervisor of two employees assigns more advanced tasks to the more experienced of the two employees, and that the less-experienced employee believes they are not assigned advanced work because of the color of their skin. This employee complains to human resources, thus making the problem known within the company’s management team. Soon after, the employees’ supervisor oversees a project that requires little to no co-worker contact but also less experience and assigns the less-experienced employee to work on this project. This employee believes that they have been demoted in retaliation for complaining to human resources and files an employment discrimination claim against his employer with the EEOC.

This is a very common scenario nowadays. In recent years, the EEOC has reported a marked increase in such claims; in fact, the EEOC reported in early 2017 that, of the 97,443 cases it resolved in 2016, retaliation was by far the most common basis, at 42,018 instances, or 45.9 percent of the total.

In the face of this recent emphasis on defending retaliation claims like the one above, employers should be aware that the data they maintain can be useful in determining whether other employees have, or have not, been treated differently than those claiming discrimination. In our example above for instance, it is important to have records of experience and qualifications to respond to claims that projects were assigned on the basis of gender, race, and other protected employee characteristics instead of legitimate and neutral factors.

Experts in Employment Discrimination Lawsuits

How is all of this relevant to American society as the 2020s begin? With no significant drop-off in alleged employment discrimination lawsuits over the last few years, you need more than ever expert advice in gathering, organizing and analyzing data in proactive consulting relationships, or analytical support and expert testimony during litigation.  Welch Consulting has long been called upon to examine workplace data for potential adverse outcomes in employee pay, promotions, hires, terminations and to guide employment practices, or, if needed, to provide expert testimony in lawsuits related to alleged differences in pay, promotions, terminations, and hiring.

Firms from all industries and throughout the country have retained the experts at Welch Consulting to perform audits of hiring, performance evaluations, compensation, terminations, and other employment practices in response to claims made by the EEOC, OFCCP, and private plaintiffs. Whether you require an audit or expert testimony in litigation, we provide comprehensive research and analysis and actionable advice that informs and improves the decision-making process of any organization.

Contact Welch Consulting to take full advantage of all of our resources.