The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is set to release information shortly that will reveal a sharp rise in the number of age-discrimination claims filed with the agency. According to the EEOC, the number of age-discrimination allegations made by employees has jumped 29%, from 19,103 complaints filed in 2007 to 24,600 in the most recent year ending on September 30, 2008. The EEOC indicates that while there has been a rise in the overall number of discrimination complaints (including other allegations such as sex and race discrimination), the increase in claims of age discrimination has been the most dramatic.
What is the cause for the increase? One explanation may simply be the demographic fact of more older workers in today’s workplace. A recent Wall Street Journal blog article on the subject also discusses other plausible reasons for the increase, including that in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court helped to broaden the interpretation of age discrimination to include cases in which there is no evidence of intentional discrimination. Researchers also speculate that older workers may be more motivated to pursue such claims because it is more difficult for them to find replacement jobs than it is for younger workers. A link to the Wall Street Journal blog article appears here.