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As if employers didn’t have enough trouble in 2010, the number of retaliation and discrimination claims and class action lawsuits increased, according to a recent article by Human Resources Executive Online.

Many employers that had never experienced any type of discrimination complaint in the past were hit for the first time in 2010. The article points out that it is unlikely that employers were discriminating more and instead blamed the weak economy and high unemployment rate for pushing desperate workers to seek relief through these complaints.

This was especially the case with retaliation claims, which for the first time exceeded race-discrimination claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) fielded 36,258 retaliation claims in fiscal year 2010 as compared to 33,613 in the previous year. Employees have found that retaliation is easier to prove than discrimination. When a workers loses a job, they can claim it was retaliation for a previous complaint of discrimination, which makes these claims hard to prevent and fight.

Legal issues like these are one of the major reasons more employers are turning to contracting as a staffing alternative to traditional, full-time employees. By hiring workers as contractors, companies shift the legal liability from themselves to the contracting back-office that employs those workers. As the economic uncertainty continues, we can only expect companies’ interest in contracting to continue to grow.

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