The New York Times (1/12, B4, Rampell) reports the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a report Tuesday showing workplace discrimination claims “soared to 99,922 in the year ended Sept. 30, from 93,277 in the previous year.” Experts said the main reason for “the increase in accusations of prejudice is most likely tied to the broad layoffs of the last few years.” Employment attorney Michael Burkhardt said a bad economy brings “a lot of increased anxiety” and “insecurity… In some cases people might file a discrimination charge if they think they’re about to be laid off.” Workers assert “a poor job market has brought out the often hidden prejudicial side of employers who can afford to be especially picky in selecting employees.”
The AP (1/11, Hananel) noted a jump in disability claims, after changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act “made it easier for people with treatable conditions like epilepsy, cancer or mental illness to claim they are disabled.” The disparity between unemployment rates for disabled workers and non-disabled workers could account for “the high number of disability charges” said Robin Shaffert of the American Association for People with Disabilities. Still, EEOC chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien said “Discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many job seekers and workers. We must continue to build our capacity to enforce the laws and ensure that workplaces are free of unlawful bias.”
The Wall Street Journal (1/12, Trottman) reports litigation possibilities are of particular concern to small business owners. National Small Business Association spokeswoman Molly Brogan said “Small businesses that are having to lay off employees-and therefore getting hit with these charges-are already in financial distress.”
The above is excerpted from the American Association of Justice News Brief of January 12, 2011. From the desk of John R. Badal, President of the Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania personal injury law firm of Liever, Hyman & Potter. We have been proudly representing injured and disabled workers for more than 50 years in Berks, Schuylkill, and adjoining Counties.