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Separating Fact from Fiction in Employment Discrimination

Separating Fact from Fiction in Employment Discrimination

You may be lead to believe that employment discrimination in the workplace does not exist anymore and/or that victims alleging job discrimination are just trying to get some “easy” money. But that is completely and absolutely WRONG!

In fact, the authors of Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality, after extensive research and analysis, prove the following conclusions that show that employment discrimination still continues:

Myth: Employment discrimination is a thing of the past.

While public opinion data shows Americans are now much less prejudiced on the basis of race and sex, and while the crudest forms of such segregation have been eliminated from the American workplace, several studies demonstrate that employment discrimination persists. Among the most striking, a 2007 study by Harvard University sociologist Devah Pager found that black men without a criminal background were less likely to receive a callback for a job interview than white men with a criminal background.

Myth: Workplace discrimination primarily takes on subtle forms and is confined to acts resulting from implicit bias.

While there is abundant research on the pervasiveness of unconscious bias, plaintiffs’ stories were often anything but subtle. Some plaintiffs spoke of having chocolate dildos put in their face at work, of a woman being told she could have a job but would have to use the men’s room urinal and of being fired upon informing the employer of a diagnosis of cancer. Defendants typically contest these facts, but the asserted behavior is often flagrant.

Myth: Targets of discrimination are quick to sue.

Taking the example of race discrimination claims, we estimate that only about 1 percent of African-American workers who perceive they have been discriminated against at work in the last year file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The research shows that, across different types of plaintiffs, less than a quarter of EEOC charges lead to the filing of a lawsuit.

Myth: The number of employment civil-rights lawsuits continues to grow, placing increasing burdens on the federal courts.

While the number of employment civil rights suits increased dramatically during the 1990s, reaching a peak of 23,735 in 1998, the number of lawsuits filed has declined dramatically since, falling to 13,831 in 2014.

Myth -  A large proportion of employment civil-rights claims are brought as class actions or with the intervention of the EEOC.

In fact, 93 percent of lawsuits are brought by a single plaintiff; only 1 percent of lawsuits are certified as class actions, and the EEOC intervenes in some 400 cases a year.

Myth: Plaintiffs have high odds of success and win large awards.

Although media coverage gives that impression, we find that some 36 percent of plaintiffs have their cases dismissed or thrown out on a motion for summary judgment and 50 percent of plaintiffs receive settlements early on, with an average settlement of $30,000. Of those cases that go to trial (6 percent), only one-third end with a win for the plaintiff.

More significantly, we find that plaintiffs often pay a high personal cost for their involvement in discrimination lawsuits. Beginning in the workplace, once they start to raise the possibility that they were discriminated against and certainly if they file a charge, they face ostracism from management and even co-workers. Handley became estranged from his wife and was forced to live out of his car because of financial difficulties.

Many plaintiffs report experiencing depression, alcoholism and divorce flowing from the stress of litigation. Many plaintiffs begin litigation hoping to get their job back; that almost never happens. Sam Grayson, a police officer who sued on a disability claim, received what we know was a large monetary settlement. His reaction: “I didn’t want any money. I wanted my job back. And I actually, to be completely honest with you, cried and left and felt like I had lost because it wasn’t about the money.”

If you are in need of lawyers who can cut through the myths and provide you with real representation for your discrimination claim, contact Lebau & Neuworth at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.  

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