UA management and organizations researchers dispel employment discrimination myth
New study finds antidiscrimination charges in the workplace are not race-specific
TUCSON, Ariz. – NOVEMBER 29, 2006 – Since the advent of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 there has been a “litigation explosion” according to Barry M. Goldman, associate professor of management and organizations at the Eller College of Management. The explosion has resulted in a nearly 600% increase in monetary award settlements since 1992, with $101.3 million being awarded in 2005. Researchers at the Eller College of Management and the University of Texas have uncovered some interesting facts about just which population groups are reaping the benefits of antidiscrimination legislation, and the findings are surprising.
A new study authored by Goldman and Eller College management and organizations professor Barbara A. Gutek, along with Ph.D. student Jordan H. Stein and University of Texas - Austin assistant professor Kyle Lewis, concludes that all races are filing antidiscrimination charges — including whites — in roughly equal numbers. However, the number of charges filed under different statutes differs by race. The finding dispels a widely-held perception that the majority of antidiscrimination charges filed against employers are made by blacks.
The purpose of the study was to integrate and evaluate all of the research on discrimination in the workplace that has been published since 1991. As the project evolved, previously inaccessible EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) data became available to the researchers. When the data were analyzed alongside the literature some interesting trends emerged. “It became apparent from the data that employment discrimination charges are about as likely to be filed by white workers as by black workers. The difference is in the statutes under which the charges are filed.” said Goldman. “The common perception is that these laws are in place primarily to protect blacks. But what we discovered is that all races seek protection under these statutes.”
According to the EEOC there were 95,115 claims of employment discrimination filed in 2005. Of these claims 39% were filed by blacks, and 34% were filed by whites. While blacks filed more lawsuits for discrimination under Title VII than did whites (48% versus 25%), these proportions are reversed for claims made under the other antidiscrimination statutes. Discrimination claims made by whites on the basis of disability [ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)], age [ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)], and equal pay [EPA (Equal Pay Act)] outnumber claims by blacks by over two to one.
One antidiscrimination issue gaining momentum among workers is retaliation, or the so-called “whistleblower” charges, which accounted for 24% of total Title VII charges in 2005. According to the study, retaliation is defined as protecting an employee against employers who act to oppose the filing of discrimination claims by firing, demoting, harassing, or otherwise “retaliating” against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in a discrimination proceeding. “Retaliation charges have approximately doubled since 1991. This is not an issue that has received a lot of attention among management researchers, but is becoming an increasing problem in the workplace,” Goldman commented. A noteworthy proportion of the charges under the ADA (10% of 18,991), the EPA (9% of 1,044), and the ADEA (10% of 18,132) alleged retaliation as a basis for the claim.
The study concludes that policy makers face potentially complex problems involving underlying racial tensions. For example, because Title VII might be perceived as protecting black workers and the ADEA (or ADA or EPA) might be perceived as protecting white workers, seemingly neutral pieces of legislation could be interpreted as having racial undertones according to the authors.
The study is the most comprehensive review of discrimination literature to date and will appear in The Journal of Management, December 2006 issue.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program No. 48 in the U.S. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the No. 25-ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and on its satellite campus in downtown Phoenix.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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