The Houston Employment Law Blog - Find Houston Employment Lawyers

EEOC: Top Five Discrimination Charges Sued Over in Texas

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just released a handy searchable tool for each state and territory in the Unites States. Texas, though only making up approximately 8.3% of the U.S. population, makes up 10% of the EEOC claims.

Texas' EEOC filings have steadily risen during the three years of available data. During fiscal year 2009, they had 8,748 claims, or 9.4% of claims in the U.S. In 2010, they had 9,310, or 9.3%. For 2011, the numbers jumped to 9,952, or 10% of the nation's claims.

The data sets also provide numbers and percentages of types of claims. Out of the EEOC provided categories, these are the five most popular claims for 2011. Because some litigants claim multiple forms of discrimination, there may be people who are in multiple categories.

Retaliation (All forms) - 41.0%

Retaliation is where any punishment occurs, such as firing the employee, giving them negative evaluations, or reducing their pay, in response to a complaint about harassment or discrimination. Protection against retaliation extends to those who participate in the investigation that arose from the complaint as well.

A local example of this prohibited practice is the John Crane Production Solutions case. When one of their field technicians complained about not receiving pay for overtime worked, he was allegedly retaliated against in the form of unpaid leave and eventually termination.

Race - 36.3%

Race based discrimination obviously covers blatant discrimination against someone due to their race or ethnicity. However, it also covers decisions that though on their face may not have a racial component, they do have a "disparate impact" on certain racial groups.

A pending class-action lawsuit against British Petroleum alleges that the oil company used race as a factor when they decided which local fishermen to employ during the Gulf Oil Spill cleanup. Though over half of the fishermen affected by the spill were Vietnamese and Cambodian-Americans, they made up less than 10 percent of the workforce.

Sex - 29.4%

Gender or sex discrimination is providing favorable or unfavorable treatment in regards to hiring, pay, promotions, or other work-related decisions to someone based on their biological sex or gender.

The recent viral story of Sarah Tressler, the reporter/stripper/professor who was fired from the Houston Chronicle, allegedly due to her side career as a stripper, is arguably an example of gender discrimination. A better example would be the Mia Macy case, where the EEOC expanded gender discrimination to cover transsexual individuals as well.

Disability - 23.5%

For those who are disabled, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees that are still able to perform the essential functions of the job. They are also required to allow leave for those that need temporary time off from their job. They also cannot refuse to hire someone who suffers from a disability but is able to perform the job's essential functions.

Last week, we covered the story of Janet Hustus, a grandmother who was laid off after taking medical leave for breast cancer treatments. She alleges that she was fired so that her employer's insurance would not have to cover her medical bills.

Age - 21.3%

The fifth most common form of discrimination claim, which is becoming ever more important due to the baby boomer inching toward retirement age, is age discrimination. Often, these cases involve forced retirement due to age or outright termination. It can also include other employment decisions, such as hiring and promotions. The most used law in this area, the ADEA, protects those who are at least 40 years old.

Late in 2011, Plano-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group was bench-slapped with an $18.3 million verdict in an age discrimination case. The alleged conduct involved placing those with more than twenty years of tenure in more strenuous jobs in order to force them to quit or become too injured to work.

Related Resources: