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The fiscal year 2010 was a record-setting year for the number of private-sector discrimination charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Nearly 100,000 charges were filed — the most charges in the commission’s  45-year history.  This number represents an increase of just over seven percent from 2009, becoming the third consecutive year in which over 90,000 charges were filed.

The EEOC recently published its annual Performance and Accountability Report for its 2010 Fiscal Year.  In its Report, the EEOC attributed “[t]his surge” in the number of charges filed “to the expanded statutory authorities that EEOC has been given with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008; the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009,” as well as the “EEOC becoming more accessible, making charge filing easier and providing better, more responsive customer service.”

The number of discrimination charges filed with the EEOC likely will continue to increase into 2011.  As employers continue to feel pressure from the current economic climate to downsize and streamline their operations, it is more important than ever to follow and enforce lawful disciplinary and discharge policies, as well as ensure any leave and/or accommodation policies are compliant with the most recent amendments to the ADA, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. 

For a complete breakdown of EEOC charge information by year, including the number of charges filed and the protected characteristic involved, please visit the EEOC’s website.