Appearances matter, especially if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers you to be a hostile boss.
Retaliation by management is the most-common source of legal action, according to a 10-year review of data from the EEOC.
Employees usually complain about retaliation after they file charges of discrimination and harassment.
For example, from 2016 to 2020, retaliation is the most-common of all complaints filed with the EEOC:
2016 – 45.9 percent
2017 – 48.8 percent
2018 – 51.6 percent
2019 – 53.8 percent
2020 – 55.8 percent
(Data: EEOC, February 2021)
A big factor in recent years has been the so-called #MeToo movement. As a result, the most-common complaint was race discrimination until 2018 when sex discrimination surged ahead.
Then in 2019, disability discrimination became No. 1.
Here are the actual numbers of charges that were pursued by the EEOC:
Retaliation: 37,632 – 55.8 percent
Disability: 24,324 – 36.1 percent
Race: 22,064 – 32.7 percent
Sex: 21,398 – 31.7 percent
Age: 14,183 – 21 percent
National origin: 6,377 – 9.5 percent
Color: 3,562 – 5.3 percent
Religion: 2,404 – 3.6 percent
Equal Pay Act: 980 – 1.5 percent
Genetic information: 440 – .7 percent
If combined with bias complaints, sexual harassment would have been the fifth-highest. There were 11,497 sexual harassment charges in fiscal year 2020, down slightly from the year before.
The only silver lining in all of this: The majority of cases didn’t reach a courtroom. That’s because the complaints were resolved in EEOC’s conciliation procedures, which allowed companies to settle before having to go to court.
Another caution: The EEOC was victorious in 95.8 percent of discrimination and harassment complaints in federal court.
Those cases netted more than $106 million for complainants – the highest number of dollars awarded since 2004.
From the Coach’s Corner, to deal with other employee issues, here are valuable HR strategies:
How Your Human Resources Program Will Earn Trust — Human resources departments still aren’t trusted by many employees, according to a study by career site, Zety. This results in poor morale and productivity, turnover, lawsuits and unsatisfactory relationships with customers resulting in weaker sales. Here are six solutions.
Preventing Legal Headaches from Workplace Relationships — It used to be that consensual romantic or sexual relationships in the workplace didn’t morph into allegations of sexual harassment or favoritism. However, that’s all changed and is why many companies have prohibited consensual relationships.
Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.
Document Employee Behavior to Withstand Legal Scrutiny — The key to documenting incidents in your workplace is to look into the future. Imagine how others will see your actions down the proverbial road. Here’s how.
Obstacles to Anticipate Before You Terminate Employees — In our litigious environment, you must prepare for several possible discrimination scenarios to overcome before starting the termination process.
“In the long run, there is not much discrimination against superior talent.”
Carter G. Woodson