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Racial discrimination and retaliation major problems in workplace

Discrimination in the workplace and wrongful termination appear to be widespread problems in California and throughout the entire country. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), complaints from workers were up during 2011 for a second year in row with the majority of the charges against employers alleging racial discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

The annual report was released by the EEOC last month. Although employees are protected by many state and federal laws, the results of the report suggest that more needs to be done to enforce these rights and that employers need to take a greater responsibility in making sure that the rights of employees are being protected.

According to the annual report, the EEOC received more than 99,900 complaints from U.S. workers. The agency helps to defend the rights of workers when employers violate the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

During the 2011 fiscal year, the agency reported that it received complaints from workers for the first time alleging violations of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their families' medical histories or their genetic information. More than 240 complaints in this category were reported and have not yet been resolved.

Retaliation by employers against workers accounted for the majority of the complaints filed by workers with the EEOC. These charges totaled 37,334 during 2011. More than 35,000 complaints involved race discrimination, more than 28,000 complaints involved sex discrimination and more 25,000 complaints involved disability discrimination.

Despite the record number of charges filed with the EEOC, the agency reported that it was able to close more than 112,000 pending complaints during 2011. Private, state and local employees who won their cases recovered more than $455 million in relief during the 2011 fiscal year. Federal employees who resolved their cases received more than $58 million in relief.

Source: Kansas City Star, "EEOC receives record job discrimination complaints in 2011," Diane Stafford, Jan. 25, 2012