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What is the most common complaint brought to the EEOC?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2024 | EEOC

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has existed for decades to help enforce federal employment laws. The organization investigates claims that companies discriminated against workers based on protected characteristics including race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, genetic information and disability.

EEOC laws apply to most companies with 15 employees or more, although the threshold increases to 20 employees or more for age discrimination concerns. Those who believe that their company discriminated against them when hiring them, choosing who to fire, selecting someone for a promotion, setting wages or allowing harassment could file a complaint with the EEOC.

The records maintained by the EEOC make it quite clear that one type of complaint is far more common than any other.

Most workers speak up about retaliation

Workers not only expect that a company should treat them fairly based on their abilities and work history, but they should also be able to speak up when the company does something inappropriate or allows certain employees to mistreat others. Unfortunately, many companies retaliate against or punish those who report misconduct in the workplace.

In 2022, the most recent year with data available, there was little question that retaliation claims as the most common issue brought to the EEOC’s attention. The agency found that 51.6% of the reports it investigated involved retaliation. Of those complaints, a majority involved violations of Title VII, which forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Another 34% of the complaints filed with the EEOC had to do with disability discrimination, while 15.6% involved age discrimination. Complaints filed based on racial discrimination were slightly more common than sex discrimination allegations, while color and national origin both represented less than 10% of the complaints filed.

How workers can prove retaliation

A worker bringing a retaliation claim against an employer typically needs evidence supporting their claim. Documentation of the misconduct they experienced and also their attempts to report that misconduct could help a worker establish that punitive actions occurred immediately after they asserted their rights.

Often, those reporting employers to the EEOC require assistance as they navigate a complex process and attempt to advocate for themselves. Realizing that a situation is not particularly unusual might give a worker the courage necessary to take a matter to the EEOC.


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