The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received more complaints of workplace discrimination from workers in Texas than from any other state last year, with 10 percent of all complaints filed there, according to a report made public by the agency on Monday.
During the 2011 fiscal year, nearly 10,000 of the record 99,947 federal charges of workplace discrimination received by the EEOC were filed in Texas, according to the report. The most common complaints within the state were "retaliatory charges," or those alleging that the employer fired, demoted or otherwise retaliated against an employee because he or she fought against discrimination in some way, such as going to the EEOC.
The second and third most common complaints were claims of race and gender bias, respectively, followed by national origin bias claims and religious discrimination claims.
Attorneys told Law 360 that one reason Texas had more complaints than any other state is that the population is so large -- more than 25 million people.
But they also said that the Texas state agency responsible for protecting workers "provides very little [protection]." That likely explains why the state ranked higher than more populous California, which has a "robust state-level agency."
The state also has a large number of workers considered to be "vulnerable," such as immigrants, those who don't speak English, and those in minimum-wage jobs, according to one attorney who spoke with the site.
The report comes after the EEOC announced earlier this month that it was updating policies regarding criminal backgrounds checks as part of an effort to limit discrimination against prospective employees from certain minority groups -- particularly African-American and Hispanic men -- that have higher rates of arrest and conviction than others.
"The ability of African-Americans and Hispanics to gain employment after prison is one of the paramount civil justice issues of our time," EEOC member Stuart Ishimaru told the Associated Press in April.
According to the AP, the update was a response to the growth of online search engines and companies that specialize in offering low-cost background checks, which has led nearly 75 percent of companies to perform backgrounds checks on applicants.
The prevalence of background checks, which are often incomplete or inaccurate, is particularly significant for black and Hispanic men, who face significantly higher rates of incarceration than whites, according to Justice Department statistics.
Earlier this year in April, the EEOC expanded its enforcement policies regarding Title VII, which protects employees from sexual discrimination, by including language to protect transgender people.
According to a statement released by the agency: "In its unprecedented decision, the EEOC concluded that 'intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII."