Schoen: Spike in job bias complaints may affect all workers

Jan. 14, 2011 at 1:33 PM ET

John Schoen, TODAY Money expert and senior business writer, hosted a live Web chat on Friday, Jan. 14, about his story on how job bias complaints just hit a record high. Read the story here.

"It may come a no surprise but in the worst job market since the Great Depression, a record number of fired workers are not going quietly," he wrote. "This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that it’s gotten more discrimination complaints in the latest year than at any time in its 45-year history. The agency cited a number of factors for the jump in claims, including greater diversity in the work force. But labor attorney that I spoke to said the brutal job market and dismal economy have also played a big role."

Read below for a few more answers from John to readers’ questions. You can find the entire archive of the live chat below as well.

Question from Rick:

Is the uptick due to more job discrimination, or is it just that people are fighting harder to keep their jobs in this economy?

John's answer:

It's a little bit of both. The EEOC has also spent more money on outreach – hosting events to explain workers rights. And the commission has staffed up to handle more complaints -- last year it collected more than $400 million from employers in finds and settlements for job bias complaints. 

Question from Edis:

Will this impact the average worker? How does this affect me? 

John's answer:

The increase in complaints – and the beefed up staff at the EEOC – could mean that employers pay more attention to their hiring practices. That’s what the EEOC is there for. But I can’t say that managers will become more attuned to job bias overnight. If there were, we probably wouldn’t be seeing so many complaints filed. 

The real solution is to get the economy moving again to create more jobs and get more people back to work. Unfortunately, the outlook there isn’t good. At the current pace it could be 2016 – or later – before job levels return to where they were before the recession.

Read an archive of the full chat:


If you have a question for our TODAY Money experts, submit it here.

To sign up for an e-mail reminder for our next chat, click here.