Tuesday, May 22, 2012

EEOC Releases Charge Data by State

The EEOC released a data set showing Charge Receipts by State (includes U.S. Territories) and Basis for 2011. It is a helpful tool to see how many charges were filed in your state, and what types of claims are "hot." Here in Pennsylvania, we had 4302 total charges, broken down as follows:
  • Retaliation: 37.2% (State Retaliation Charges as a Percentage of Total State Charges)
  • Disability: 31.1%
  • Sex: 30%
  • Race: 27.4%
  • Age: 27.3%
  • National Origin: 7.9%
  • Religion: 4.0%
  • Color: 1.7%
  • Genetic Information: 0.1%
For you math majors who noticed that it adds up to more than 100%, that's probably because people file multiple bases in a single charge (i.e. "I was discriminated against for age, race, and retaliation).

One thing I would not use the data set for, is state-by-state comparson... at least not without some more in depth statistical analysis. If you're wondering, Pennsylvania ranks 7th in total charges. But here's the problem with just taking the numbers at face value:
  • Size: Different states have different population sizes (not to mention different numbers of people in the workforce). Obviously Texas and California will have more charges than Wyoming and Idaho.
  • Economy: In tough economic times, employers make a higher number of "adverse employment actions," which are generally necessary for discrimination claims. Plus, if you can't find a new job, your damages for a discrimination claim may be higher (i.e. stronger incentive to file a claim).
  • Homogeneity: I'm not sure exactly how this would play out . . . but I imagine a state that is 95% white (to use race as one example) would have different race charge statistics from a state that has large numbers of white, asian, black hispanic, etc. employees. 
  • Procedure for Claims: Different states have different procedures for enforcing their state discrimination statutes. As Jon Hyman and Eric Meyer point out, Ohio and New Jersey apparently allow individuals to go to court without first filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC or its state equivalent.
I'm sure there are additional factors. Maybe some day when I have the time, I'll play around with controlling for some of these factors...

Image: EEOC logo used in commentary on the EEOC. Not official use.