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What You Should Know About the EEOC and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

On April 30, 2014, President Barack Obama declared May 2014 as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month in celebration of the accomplishments and vibrant history of this community. This year's theme, "I Am Beyond", speaks to the importance of the growing AAPI community.  As the celebrations come to a close, the EEOC acknowledges not only the important contributions of the AAPI community to the fabric of our nation, but our efforts to ensure equality of opportunity in the workplace.

AAPIs make up one of the fastest growing racial groups in the U.S., constituting about one third of the one million immigrants who enter the U.S. annually.  Approximately 116.6 million AAPIs live in the U.S., making up approximately 5.4% of the population, representing 30 countries that speak more than 100 different languages.  Between 2000 and 2010, the AAPI population grew by 43%, from 10.5 million to 15.2 million.  By 2050, AAPIs will make up 9.7% of the total U.S. population, or approximately 40 million people.   

We are proud to be an active participant in the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Through our private sector enforcement and litigation efforts, our policy and outreach work, as well as our federal sector hearings, appeals and coordination work, EEOC employees perform important services for the AAPI community ensuring that their rights to equal employment opportunity are upheld.  Highlights of these efforts include:

In fiscal year 2013, the EEOC received 32,360 total receipts alleging discrimination on the basis of race.  Of those, 1,225 charges were filed by individuals claiming discrimination based on their Asian heritage, while 145 were filed by Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander individuals.  The leading bases on which the AAPI community files charges are Discharge, Terms & Conditions of Employment and Harassment.

The Commission has filed 20 lawsuits since 2003 alleging discrimination involving AAPI communities.  The alleged discrimination included trafficking, harassment and the use of derogatory comments. A few notable cases are highlighted below:

The EEOC has focused on reaching immigrants in the AAPI community through our work on the Strategic Enforcement Plan priority concerning Immigrant, Migrant, and Other Vulnerable Workers.  To this end we have established an Immigrant Worker Team, comprised of 25 EEOC staff from across the agency to address issues affecting immigrant workers.  The EEOC also works collaboratively with DOL, DOJ and other federal agencies to more strategically address trafficking and issues that pertain to vulnerable workers.

Over the past year, the EEOC has reached more than 11,700 individuals by participating in over 240 events geared at AAPI communities,  including the Chinese, Burmese and Vietnamese communities in Indiana, the Cambodian and Micronesian communities in Massachusetts, the Chinese and Korean communities in Alabama, and the Hmong community in California, to name a few.

We will continue our efforts to eradicate discrimination in the workplace by enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws and educating employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities.