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Texans report highest occurrence of workplace discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that Texas led the country in the frequency of employment discrimination claims in 2011. Of all the complaints the EEOC investigated last year, 10 percent were filed in Texas.

The most common grievance for Texas workers was the claim of employer retaliation for reporting workplace discrimination. Employees also filed complaints of bias based on race, gender, national origin and religion.

The explanation for such a high prevalence of employment discrimination in Texas is unclear. One of the possible reasons is the volume of workers in the state -- Texas is home to more than 25 million people. But California's population is even larger and Californians file far fewer complaints with the EEOC. However, Texas law apparently is less protective of workers. Furthermore, Texas has a higher proportion of "vulnerable" workers, such as immigrants, non-English speakers and minimum-wage employees, who are often the victims of workplace discrimination.

Under federal law, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate against an employee based on that person's race, color, religious beliefs, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic background. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who report discriminatory practices.

The EEOC is the agency responsible for enforcing these anti-discrimination laws. For someone who has been the victim of employment discrimination, the first step is to file a Charge of Discrimination. The EEOC will investigate the claim, and will either pursue legal action on the claimant's behalf or grant the claimant permission to sue their employer directly.

Federal employees are protected by these same laws, but they are also afforded extra security by Executive Orders not enforced by the EEOC. Government workers who are discriminated against have the right to file a complaint against the agency that employs them. In such a case, it is advantageous to have the support of an employment lawyer who is well-versed in federal employment law to advocate for their client.

Source: Huffington Post, "Texas Led Nation In Workplace Discrimination Complaints In 2011, EEOC Report Says," May 16, 2012

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