With the local economy suffering the effects of the economic recession, the prevailing wisdom of experts has been that the number of discrimination claims filed would continue to skyrocket. However, as I’ve pointed out before, we just haven’t seen that trend in Connecticut play out.

New data just released by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) confirms that the number of discrimination claims filed has actually dropped significantly over the last fiscal year (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009). You can view the latest annual report here (and see my prior reports on the CHRO annual reports for FYs 2007 and 2008 both here and here). 

Thus in FY 2009, 1716 employment discrimination complaints were filed with the agency, compared with 1814 in the prior year.  Interestingly, the CHRO made almost the exact same number of "reasonable cause findings" — 91 — as it did in the prior year (88).  Over one-third of cases were dismissed on the merit assessment review stage and nearly another third were withdrawn with settlement. 

In an upcoming post or two, I’ll delve into the statistics a bit further (including big drops in the numbers of harassment and retaliation claims being filed). 

For employers, trying to figure out why the number of discrimination complaints here in the state is has dropped while the among of people unemployed is up, is a tough one to tackle.

Could it be that more employers are offering severance in exchange for waivers of discrimination complaints? Is it that people who are laid off during a recession understand the rationale (tough economic times) better than when times are good? Are employers seeking more legal advice about the process, anticipating a higher risk of a lawsuit?

Adding to the head-scratching is the fact that complaints to the EEOC on a nation-wide basis are actually up significantly.  In any case, the new statistics reveal that a discrimination claim is not a foregone conclusion arising from a layoff, at least in Connecticut.

Photo credit: Grafixar from morguefile.com