How A Business Can Face An EEOC Claim Only Once Every 400 Years

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that claims filed by employees against the employer have risen to 100,000 in 2010, up 20% in the past three years. Similar rises can be expected in comp claims and state discrimination statutes. (The NY work comp law has a discrimination section, Sect. 120, for discharging a worker in retaliation for filing a compensation claim.)
The numbers seem daunting but further analysis paints a different picture. First, 95% of the EEOC claims are dismissed, with only 5% (about 5000/yr) requiring further action. That means that an employer with 50 employees, statistically, would be faced with a successful EEOC claim once every 400 years. Of course, even a modest amount of care would reduce that to a claim every 4000 years. (WCxKit)
Nothing to worry about? Maybe, maybe not. Such claims are caused, for the most part, by job anxiety. Fears about future security cause people to over estimate the powers of discrimination statues. Unfortunately, the claims must be defended – which costs time, money and emotions. Furthermore, a person looking for an EEOC claim, after talking to a lawyer, may discover that they have unemployment and workers compensation claims instead. There are a growing variety of laws that can be invoked.
An employer wishing to reduce chances of claims, successful or unsuccessful, should realize that the employer has the advantage of being able to assemble an coordinate available information into a single defense package, for use in a variety of claims. However, that will happen only if the employer takes the initiative.
Lawyers in work comp are almost never involved directly in EEOC, OSHA and ERISA claims. Nor are they involved in UI and a variety of other possible claims related to disability. Similarly, the lawyers on the other claims prefer to have nothing to do with work comp. The employer, therefore, may be in possession of much valuable information but will miss opportunities if it is used piecemeal on a claim by claim basis. Always advise an attorney of all known prior claims and include documents.
Compensation claims are often filed after discrimination or unemployment claim fails. In such cases, the employer should retain all papers for the failed claims and immediately advise the carrier and the comp board of their existence, preferably by mailing a copy to the carrier and the comp board. Persons making afterthought claims seldom adhere to consistency and inconsistent statements can quickly dispose of many troublesome claims. (WCxKit)
At present, economic uncertainty will certainly, in the immediate future, result in a substantially increased number of “probing claims”, i.e., claims in which the applicant fishes for the possibility of an easy result. Meeting the probe with hard-copy facts, instead of bare denials, can settle matters before they grow.

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, New York. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers' compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans, and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100.

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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