Age-Based Harassment Complaints Rise

EEOCPrivate sector age-based harassment charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  rose almost ten percent from 2010 to 2014.

The EEOC reports the number of harassment charges filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 increased from 3,780 charges in 2010 to 4,157 in 2014.  This is an increase of 9.97 percent.

During the same four-year period, the total number of private sector harassment charges filed with the EEOC for all reasons declined by 1.96 percent.  Declines were seen in complaints alleging harassment based on sex (-4.32%), national origin (-5.41%) and religion (-1.32%).

Sexual harassment complaints by far constitute the largest category of harassment complaints received by the EEOC each year.  The number of sexual harassment complaints. dropped from 12,695 complaints filed  in 2010 to 12,146 complaints filed in 2014.

There were increases in the number of private sector complaints  filed alleging harassment on the basis of race (2.56%), color (17.99%) and disability (17.70%).  Increases also were  seen in harassment complaints filed under the Equal Pay Act  of 1963(41.77%) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008  (245.45%).

Complaints alleging racial harassment increased slightly, from 8,798 complaints in 2010 to 9,023 in 2014. There was a steep 17.99 percent increase in complaints alleging harassment on the basis of color, which rose from 895 complaints in 2010 to 1,056 complaints in 2014. This was the highest increase for any category of harassment complaints.

The number of complaints based on national origin dropped from 3,643 complaints in 2010 to 3,446 complaints in 2014.

Complaints of harassment filed pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act  also rose sharply. A total of 4,119 disability-related harassment complaints were filed in 2010 compared to 4,848 in 2014.  This represents a 17.70 percent increase.

Complaints of harassment based on retaliation (under all statutes)  increased by 11.96 percent during the four-year period,  from 10,288 in 2014 to 11,518 in 2014.

Of course, the number of charges filed with the EEOC represents the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that fewer than 25 percent of workers who experience harassment of any type report it to their supervisor or anyone in power.

The report was presented recently to a special EEOC task force on workplace harassment that is examining the scope of the problem as well as potential solutions.

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