Job-discrimination complaints across the United States hit record levels in fiscal 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports.
About 95,400 workplace-discrimination claims were filed for the year ended September 30, the most recent data available. That's up from 82,800 the previous year.
Complaints based on race, gender, age, and religion all saw year-over-year gains.
Workers can file discrimination complaints with the commission, which can seek to remedy the situation. Some complaints lead to financial settlements and mediation, while others are determined to have no merit.
Employment attorneys expected the increase as businesses cut back on hiring and increased layoffs because of the weak economy.
"It is no surprise that the number of charges have increased," says John Lomax, a labor and employment shareholder at the Phoenix office of law firm Greenberg Traurig. "During our annual labor seminar in October 2008, we projected that we would see an increase in the number of discrimination charges due to the fact that companies, for numerous reasons, would be forced to cut back in light of the current economic conditions. However, what is a bit surprising is the rate at which that number is increasing."