It is no secret that race relations are weighing heavily on the minds of Americans of late. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that 70% of Americans think race relations in the United States are poor. This is the second year in a row that the poll found that 70% or more Americans held this view. Last year’s poll, following numerous fatal police shootings of black men, revealed that 74% of us thought race relations were bad. The President’s current quarrel with the NFL over its handling of the expression of players’ and coaches’ opinions on such issues has only exacerbated the issue.
Expect these issues to manifest in an uptick in EEOC filings charging race discrimination. Historically, as a percentage of total charges filed, race discrimination claims have held steady in the 35-37% range. In the past, the EEOC has often paid particular attention to hot-button political and cultural issues falling within its purview.
On September 29, the EEOC released its latest edition of its Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law featuring a special article entitled, “Race Discrimination in the 21st Century Workplace.” Per its press release, “The comprehensive article discusses the legal prohibitions on race discrimination in the workplace, as well as recent issues of race discrimination.” Take this as an indication of an increased level of interest by the EEOC on race relations in the workplace.