Poll: Office Gender Suits on the Upswing

March 9, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - More than half of companies who faced workplace lawsuits in 2004 got hit with gender discrimination charges, according to a new survey.

A news release from Jackson Lewis, a law firm specializing in employment law, said the 58% seen last year was a dramatic spike from the 48% of firms facing those charges in 2003. Meanwhile, 2004 incidents of sexual harassment ticked up slightly. In 2003, 63% of respondents said they handled a sexual harassment complaint – a 6% increase from the previous year’s 57%. However, this is still a significant drop from 1995 when virtually everyone – 95% – said they dealt with a sexual harassment issue.

In 2004, race discrimination charges have eased, according to Jackson Lewis. In 2004, less than half of those sued (49%) said race bias was the most frequent charge – down from the 54% in 2003.

At least in part, that could be because more companies have workplace diversity programs in place, according to the law firm’s survey. Diversity programs have increased dramatically over the past five years. In 2004, more than half the companies polled (55%) reported having such a workplace initiative – a significant increase from 2000 when only 33% of companies had a diversity plan in place.

Turning to other workplace issues, the survey said co-worker dating policies gained popularity. In 2003, 20% of the respondents said they have a policy regulating co-worker dating at their company, up 7% from 2002.

Finally, Jackson Lewis said the number of workplace lawsuits remains relatively flat year over year. In 2004, 57% of those polled said they were sued by an employee during the past 12 months, the same number as the previous year. This is a slight decrease from 10 years ago (1995) when 62% said they were sued by an employee.

More information about the company is at www.jacksonlewis.com .