Employers Paid $101M in Discrimination Awards in 2005

December 18, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Federal discrimination suits cost employers $101.3 million in court awards last year and have increased by 268% since 1991, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Arizona.

The study includes data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and found that awards paid for discrimination suits amounted to $14.7 million in 1992, far lower than the $101.3 million last year.

However, the study also found that only 4% of discrimination claims are actually won in litigation and 22% result in settlements. The remaining claims were lost in trial.

Employment discrimination charges are about as likely to be filed by white workers as by black workers, according to the data. Of the more than 95,000 discrimination complaints filed last year, 39% were filed by African American workers and 34% by whites.

That gap widens somewhat when the authors of the survey looked at those who filed discrimination suits under Title VII – 48% of those filing suits were black and 25%, white. However, when looking at claims filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Equal Pay Act, 48% of those claimants were white and one quarter were black.

One area where the authors particularly noticed a high increase in discrimination lawsuits were those alleging retaliation, which are not necessarily based on proof of discrimination based on traditional forms of bias, but on an employers’ actions after an employee files a discrimination charge or participates in a civil rights claim against an employer.

Retaliation charges accounted for 24% of Title VII filings last year and have nearly doubled since 1991.