Retaliation Ranks Tops in 2020 Workplace Discrimination Complaints

March 8, 2021 by

More than half of all workplace discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. involve retaliation, according to figures from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Retaliation was the most frequently cited claim in charges filed with the agency — accounting for 55.8% of all charges filed. The next most frequently cited claims included disability, race and sex, according to data for the 2020 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2020.

EEOC data shows retaliation claims have been an increasing share of total complaints — from 44.5% in 2015 to 53.8% in 2019 to 55.8% in 2020.

In all, EEOC received 67,448 charges of workplace discrimination FY 2020.

The agency said it secured $439.2 million for victims of discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation.

Specifically, the EEOC reported charge numbers show the following categories of discrimination, in descending order of frequency:

  • Retaliation: 37,632 (55.8% of all charges filed)
  • Disability: 24,324 (36.1%)
  • Race: 22,064 (32.7%)
  • Sex: 21,398 (31.7%)
  • Age: 14,183 (21.0%)
  • National Origin: 6,377 (9.5%)
  • Color: 3,562 (5.3%)
  • Religion: 2,404 (3.6%)
  • Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5%)
  • Genetic Information: 440 (0.7%)

The percentages add up to more than 100% because some charges allege multiple bases.

In terms of retaliation, the EEOC enforces laws that protect workers from being punished, treated differently or harassed at work because they, a friend, parent, or someone else with whom they closely associate files a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC or reports discrimination to others.

The laws protect workers whether they are complaining about discrimination against themselves or others or if they help someone else report job discrimination.