As I did last year, after I posted on the general statistics of the CHRO to see if we could glean any trends, I took a deeper dive into what the statistics this year show. And there were definitely a few surprises.
But because less employees are being fired or laid off (unemployment in Connecticut is at moderately low levels and the newest national figures this morning show just a 4.6 percent unemployment rate) than in a recession, what gives?
Well, if you look at the “discharge” claims — that is, the claim that “I was fired because of discrimination” — there was a modest increase in those claims to 1216 in FY 2016, up from 1174 in FY 2015. But still, discharge claims are down from their historical peaks in 2003, when there were 1385 such claims.
But the bigger increase continues to be in the “terms and conditions” area.
That is, employees who claim that they are being discriminated against in the “terms and conditions” of their employment when it comes to things like hiring, promotions and pay.
It could also mean an employer is not approving leaves, or granting breaks or any other term or condition of employment, however small.
In 2003, there were 411 such claims filed. In 2014, there were 782. By FY 2016, however, that number has skyrocketed to 1056! That’s a 35 percent increase in just the last two years.
In my mind, that likely means that more current employees are bringing discrimination claims against their employers.
This is bolstered by a look at the “harassment” statistics. Notably, I’m not talking about sexual harassment claims, which continue to trend noticeably downward. Just 135 such claims were filed in FY 2016, down from 185 the prior year and the lowest number by far in the 15+ years of available data.
Instead, this is a catch all claim for “I’m harassed” because of some other reason. Just 175 such claims were filed in 2003, though that number was up to 380 in 2014. For FY 2016, that number is up to 545.
That’s a more than 210% increase in over a decade!
Retaliation claims are also up again — an increase from 753 to 776. Though, it should be noted, that rise is a bit slower than the past few years.
What’s the takeaway?
As I noted last year, you may be looking for claims in the wrong spot. Dismissal claims are up modestly but “harassment” and “terms and conditions” claims continue to see the biggest increases.
Thus, managing your current employees and getting legal counsel involved to help advise you, may be more helpful to keeping such claims to a minimum than just talking with counsel exclusively about terminations.
Regardless, employers should continue to be mindful that the trend of increased discrimination claims in Connecticut shows no signs of slowing down.