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Not all in-house counselors deal with employment law issues. Some deal with nothing but patents and commercial contract negotiations. However, the bigger your company grows, the more likely it will be that you’ll be looked to when employment discrimination issues arise.
Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission releases a statistical breakdown of charges filed with the agency. For the 2012 Fiscal Year, ending on September 30, 2012, the total number of claims remained about the same — just below 100,000 claims. However, a look at the trends might help you to tailor internal employment policies and to decide where to emphasize any internal training.
The Top Five Claims
Unsurprisingly, retaliation claims are huge. An employee complains and their supervisor either outright retaliates, resents the employee subconsciously, or the employee becomes hypersensitive due to the prior alleged discrimination. It happens. Be prepared for it.
The Rare Claims
The least popular claims, Genetic Information (0.3%), Equal Pay (1.1%), Color (2.7%), and Religion (3.8%) all fall in the single digits but should not be overlooked.
For some of these statistically minor claims, there were likely similar claims that bled into other categories, such as Color claims being classified as Race claims and Equal Pay claims falling under Sex Discrimination claims. For GINA, or Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 claims, it might simply be a lack of awareness - the GINA Act is only a few years old and has resulted in only a couple hundred filings per year since.
Other than a continual upward trend in disability claims, the breakdown of claims hasn't changed significantly over the last few years. For those of you in-house attorneys who deal with employment issues or draft nondiscrimination polices, the statistics should help you to allocate your resources and priorities appropriately.