The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published a new listing for them on February 1, 2013. For the first time ever they published the statistics for charges by the type of employment action that was claimed. They divided the listing by Title VII, ADA, ADEA, EPA and GINA. So here are the top six EEO areas companies got in trouble with in 2012 by looking at charges.
The top six areas of charges under the four statutes listed above where in no particular order harassment, hiring, discipline, discharge, wages and terms and conditions. So, out of this list which do you think was number one? In fact try to put these in order before you read any further. (tick, tick, tick) Ready, have your list?
Here they are in order of the most charges to the least:
- Discharge, with a whopping 74,571
- Terms & conditions, a distant second at 33,269 (You may be wondering what that is, I will get to that.)
- Harassment was third with 29,372
- Discipline at 18,627
- Wages at 9,464
- Hiring at 9,062
I don’t know about you but I was somewhat surprised at the order of these. I would have expected harassment to be higher and I really expected hiring to be higher. But that may be a reflection of the fact that in HR we have put an emphasis on making sure the hiring process (advertisements, applications, and interviews) is pretty clean.
Discharge needs work
It is quite obvious that the disciplinary and discharge processes in companies need work. My experience has been many companies do a very poor job in the discipline and discharge. We do not correct behavior soon enough and specifically enough. I find companies that do not discipline until they terminate. There has been no or little explanation of why the employee is being terminated. There have been no, or mild, disciplinary meeting to correct behavior, and quite often the employees are not aware that they are being warned they need to correct their behavior. Thus, when they are terminated what do they attribute that action to? Quite often, if they are in a protected category, that is seen as the reason.
Terms and conditions
This was an interesting category to be in second place. It seems to be almost a catch-all category and it can include many issues. According to the EEOC Terms & Conditions mean “The law makes it illegal for an employer to make any employment decision because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. That means an employer may not discriminate when it comes to such things as hiring, firing, promotions, and pay.” That stuff is certainly what most of us would think of in terms of areas covered by EEOC, but “It also means an employer may not discriminate, for example, when granting breaks, approving leave, assigning work stations, or setting any other term or condition of employment – however small.” I think that is a point often missed by employers. Honestly, how many of you really thought you could get a discrimination charge for assignment of work stations?
While discharge was the largest category for the statutes, one area dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act, stands out. Reasonable accommodation had 13,281 charges and as the terms of the ADAAA become better known that is expected to rise.
The take away
What can you learn from looking at these numbers? The first thing is you need to learn to tighten up your discipline and discharge practices. The best thing you can do for this is to improve your documentation efforts. Make sure what you are doing is job related and document that fact. People are less likely to make a charge against you if they have a better understanding of the business reason for which you are terminating them. They may not like it, but if you have made a case that shows them it is not because of some personal characteristic they will be less likely to be angry. And having all the proper documentation will help you when the EEOC comes knocking on your door.
If you want to view the List from the EEOC click here.