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Discrimination charges investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a record high in 2010, and 2011 is expected to outpace last year, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article.

In fiscal year 2010, there were 99,922 charges of discrimination, according to the article.  Of those, 20,149 ended in “merit resolutions,” meaning that the outcomes of those cases were favorable to the employees.  Retaliation was the most common charge filed.

It looks like fiscal 2011 could be another record-breaking year.  Charges so far this year are ahead of last year’s.

So why the surge in discrimination charges? The article provides a few theories. One is that, because the economy is still unstable, employees who would normally just quit their jobs and go elsewhere are instead opting to file an EEOC charge. But the economy can have the opposite effect, making people reluctant to file a claim out of fear of losing their jobs in retaliation. The surge could simply be due to more people being aware of their rights.

Whatever the reason, it looks like employers need to be especially careful, so you may want to put your clients on alert!

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