By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
Private sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agency nationwide hit an unprecedented level of 99,922 during fiscal year (FY) 2010, according to an EEOC press release.
The EEOC ended FY 2010 – October 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010 – with 250 lawsuits filed, 285 lawsuits resolved, and 104,999 private sector charges resolved. Overall, through enforcement, mediation, and litigation programs to promote inclusive and discrimination-free workplaces, the EEOC secured more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers, the highest level of relief ever obtained by the agency.
According to the FY 2010 data, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector – which include charges filed against state and local governments – increased. These include charges alleging discrimination under:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended;
- Equal Pay Act;
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
In FY 2010, retaliation under all statutes (36,258) surpassed race (35,890) as the most frequently filed charge with the EEOC for the first time ever since race had been historically the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965. In addition, allegations based on religion (3,790), disability (25,165), and age (23,264) increased. In its first year of enforcement, the EEOC received 201 charges under GINA.
The FY 2010 enforcement and litigation statistics are available online at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm. To see EEOC Charge Statistics FY 1997 Through FY 2010, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm.
Recently, part of the EEOC enforcement has targeted employers that may be using credit reports of job applicants for employment screening in a discriminatory manner in the eyes of the federal law. Credit checks for employment purposes have become a very controversial subject. Job applicants looking for work in a tough economy are caught in a “Catch-22” situation where they have bad credit because they cannot get a job but cannot get a job because they have bad credit. As a result, the EEOC held a public Commission meeting in October 2010 to hear testimony on the growing use of credit histories of job applicants as selection criteria during employment background screening to see if the practice is discriminatory.
However, while credit checks are one method employers may use to hire an honest and trustworthy employee that also provide some legal cover if that employee turns out to be dishonest, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not encourage routine credit checks on all candidates since credit checks often contain errors and can feel like an invasion of privacy to applicants. Employers should limit credit checks to relevant positions such as those that involve money. In fact, with many states recently passing laws limiting the use of credit checks for employment purposes, employers need to be careful when, to whom, and how they perform credit checks on prospective job applicants.
However, in response to seeing an increase in claims of discrimination based upon criminal records and credit reports, the EEOC began the E-RACE (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment) Initiative. More recently, the EEOC filed a nationwide hiring discrimination lawsuit against a nationwide provider of postsecondary education charging the company engaged in a pattern of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide by rejecting them based on their credit history, a practice with an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity. As a result of these practices, the company allegedly violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC press release.
The controversy over whether employers using credit reports for employment screening is discriminatory is Trend #1 in Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Background Screening’ for 2011.
For more information about background screening, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). ESR was the third U.S. background check firm to be ‘Safe Harbor’ Certified for data privacy protection. To learn more about ESR’s Leadership, Resources, and Solutions, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.