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Hispanics in the American Workforce

As part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) year-long 50th anniversary celebration, the agency has released American Experiences versus American Expectations, a report that illustrates the significant changes to the demographics of the American workforce since EEOC opened its doors in 1965. The report, which also highlights continuing challenges in our workforce demographics, uses EEO-1 data to track employment participation from 1966 to 2013 for several demographic groups, including Hispanics.

Beginning in 1966, all employers with 100 or more employees (lower thresholds apply to federal contractors) have been required by law to file an Employer Information Report EEO-1 with EEOC. In fiscal year 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, approximately 70,000 employers filed reports indicating the composition of their workforce by sex, race/ethnicity, and major job categories. (For more information about the EEO-1 and job categories, please see http://www.eeoc.gov/employers/eeo1survey/index.cfm.)

American Experiences versus American Expectations reveals several noteworthy trends concerning Hispanic experiences in the workforce:

Participation Rate for Hispanic Executives, First, Mid and Senior Level Officials & Managers from 1966 - 2013
  • Hispanics saw consistent increases in participation rates from 1966 through 2013 in all nine job categories.
  • In 1966, Hispanic Officials and Managers composed less than 1 percent of all Officials and Managers. By 2008, the Hispanic participation rate in this category had increased to 7.50 percent. The rate decreased slightly to 7.39 percent in 2013.
  • Hispanics Laborers showed the largest increase in participation, from 6.14 percent in 1966 to 29.17 percent in 2013 - an increase of 23.03 percentage points. 
  • The participation rate for Hispanic Sales Workers increased each year reported. The largest increase was between 2002 and 2008 at 2.42 percentage points.

By comparison, between 1966 and 2013, overall Hispanic participation rates in the workforce increased from 2.5 percent to 13.9 percent (2013 EEO-1 Indicators report). In 2013, the United States' 54 million Hispanics made up roughly 17 percent of the population. Between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, the number of Hispanics in the US increased by 1.1 million.

EEOC's Efforts to Address National Origin Discrimination in Employment

EEOC is responsible for enforcing, among other laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin in any aspect of employment. In FY 2014, national origin discrimination comprised 11 percent of the charges filed with EEOC under all the statutes the agency enforces. Of these charges, Hispanics filed 4,469. The issues most frequently alleged in these charges were discharge, harassment, and terms and conditions of employment.

Through its 53 offices nationwide, EEOC works to stop and remedy racial barriers to equal employment opportunity such as hiring discrimination and harassment. During FY 2014, EEOC staff resolved 9,768 charges of employment discrimination based on national origin and recovered over $31.4 million for individuals along with substantial changes to employer policies to remedy violations and prevent future discrimination-without litigation. When litigation has been necessary, EEOC has filed 216 lawsuits between FY 2003 and FY 2013 alleging discrimination involving Hispanics. The alleged discrimination included trafficking, harassment, and derogatory comments.

Among noteworthy EEOC resolutions on behalf of Hispanics are the following:

  • In 2010, EEOC settled a sexual harassment suit for $5.8 million on behalf of 21 Hispanic female janitorial workers. EEOC asserted that the women were victims of unwelcome touching, explicit sexual comments, and requests for sex by co-workers and supervisors. Some of the harassers allegedly exposed themselves, groped female employees, and raped at least one of the victims. The lawsuit charged that the company failed to respond to the employees' repeated complaints of harassment, and many of the harassers continued to work for the company despite the complaints.
  • Just this year EEOC settled a lawsuit for $330,000 on behalf of 10 Hispanic farmworkers. EEOC alleged that since at least 2007, two supervisors subjected female farmworkers to ongoing sexual harassment including comments, leering, hugging, kissing, requests for dates or sex, and unwelcome physical acts. EEOC contended that four of the alleged victims, as well as other farmworkers (both male and female), reported the harassment on several different occasions, but the company failed to take immediate, corrective action to properly handle the situation, as required by federal law.

EEOC has an especially vigorous Hispanic outreach program. We strive to make Hispanics - and their employers - aware of their rights in the U.S. workforce, regardless of their work authorization status. Outreach and education among Hispanic workers can be challenging because of the lang­uage barrier and their belief that resisting discrim­ination will cause them to be arrested and/or deported on immigration issues. Additionally, EEOC provides outreach and education materials in Spanish and has bilingual staff and interpreter services available to assist throughout our process.

More information on national origin discrimination is at: www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-nator.cfm

More information on anti-discrimination law and policies that affect immigrants is at: www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/immigrants-facts.cfm