EEOC Reacts to Post 09/11 Backlash

May 20, 2002 ( - A rising number of complaints of employment discrimination by Muslims and Arab-Americans since September 11 has prompted a response from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Between September 11, 2001, and May 7, 2002, the EEOC received 497 charges on the basis of Muslim religion. During the comparable period one year earlier, 193 such charges were received.

Backlash Stats

As of May 7, 2002, EEOC field offices throughout the country had received 488 charges of backlash discrimination following the September 11 terrorist attacks.  Discharge has been alleged in 301 of these charges, and harassment has been alleged to be an issue in 194 of these charges. According to the EEOC, states with the greatest numbers of charges filed include:

  • Texas (63)
  • California (47)
  • Florida (34)
  • Illinois (34)
  • Arizona (30).

Fact Sheets Posted

In response, the EEOC has posted two new fact sheets for employers and employees, respectively, addressing frequently asked questions about the employment of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and Sikhs. According to the EEOC, these materials are the latest in a series of efforts to proactively prevent September 11-related workplace backlash against people who are, or are perceived to be, members of these vulnerable communities.

Employers can check out Questions and Answers about Employer Responsibilities Concerning the Employment of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and Sikhs, which includes information about hiring and other employment decisions, harassment, religious accommodation, temporary assignments, background investigations, and where to go for more guidance – at

Workers may be interested in Questions and Answers about the Workplace Rights of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and Sikhs under the Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, which includes information about hiring and discharge, harassment, religious accommodation, and how to file a charge of discrimination.  That information is at

The new fact sheets are available by contacting the EEOC’s Publications Distribution Center at (800) 669-3362 voice or (800) 800-3302 TTY, as well as on EEOC’s web site at . The web site also offers a special “September 11 Information” section with additional materials and resources.