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December 12, 2005
15 Percent of Workers Report Bias, Many Cite Pay

Employment discrimination continues to be a significant problem in the workplace, according to preliminary statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for Fiscal Year 2005 (October 2004 to September 2005).

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Over 75,400 charges of employment discrimination were filed through the agency in that timeframe, 61 percent of which were filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which covers race, color, sex, religion, national origin and retaliation). Race discrimination accounted for 36 percent of all claims, followed by sex discrimination (31 percent) and retaliation (29 percent).

Meanwhile, a national poll conducted by the Gallup Organization and released in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the EEOC, reports that 15 percent of all workers perceived they had been subjected to discriminatory treatment. The poll was conducted among 1,252 employees of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders and states of disability.

The most prevalent type of perceived discrimination cited in the workplace is based on gender, reported by 26 percent of all respondents who believed they had been treated unfairly, followed by race/national origin (23 percent), age (17 percent) and disability (9 percent).

One third (33 percent) of all respondents who believed they had been treated unfairly said it was in the area of workplace promotions, and almost nearly as many felt they had been discriminated against in terms of pay (29 percent).

Discrepancies between Workplace Perceptions and Bias Claims

"We are particularly interested in those areas where the Gallup data on perceptions differs sharply from our actual experience of people filing charges," EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez said. "When you compare our most recent EEOC charge statistics with the Gallup data, we find that a far greater percentage of Hispanics and Asians perceive themselves to be discriminated against than actually file charges. "

For example, 82.5 percent of race discrimination claims were brought by African-Americans, with Asian/Pacific Islanders filing only 3 percent. However, according to the Gallup poll, 30 percent of Asians said they perceived discrimination on the job. Meanwhile, although 18 percent of all Hispanics reported that they had perceived discrimination on the job, relatively few filed discrimination claims, according to the EEOC.

Dominguez says being armed with such information will guide EEOC, which was founded through the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in its future efforts. "Through the continuation of strong enforcement and targeted outreach and education, the EEOC is striving to ensure that the promise of the Civil Rights Act of 40 years ago will continue to be fulfilled for succeeding generations of American workers," she said.

Diversity and Retention

The poll also asked employees to rate their employer's diversity efforts. It found that employees of companies who were rated in the upper third in terms of diversity efforts were much more likely to report that they were "extremely satisfied" with their company (61 percent) than those whose companies were in the middle (34 percent) and lower (21 percent) thirds. Such employees likewise reported that they were much more likely to both stay with their employer and recommend their employer to others than those working for companies rated in the middle and lower third.

The Gallup poll received financial support from Kaiser- Permanente, The Society for Human Resource Management, and United Parcel Service.

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