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Press Release 12-08-2005


Survey Says 15% of Workers Perceive Job Bias; Figures Higher for People of Color, Women


WASHINGTON -- A national Gallup poll on discrimination in today's workplace, conducted in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), shows that while much progress has been made in fulfilling the promise of equal opportunity, more remains to be done.


The new poll addresses perceptions of discrimination among American workers four decades after the agency was founded through the enactment of Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The Gallup Organization --  with input from the EEOC and financial support from Kaiser Permanente, The Society for Human Resources Management and United Parcel Service -- sampled American workers of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders, and states of disability.  The survey asked employees about their perceptions of discrimination at work and the effect those perceptions had on performance and retention.


"We are grateful to the Gallup Organization and its sponsors for this important information," said EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez.  "At the Commission, we deal with concrete charges of discrimination that workers file, and this insight into the perceptions of discrimination by a sampling of the workforce will aid us as we continue our emphasis on proactive prevention, outreach, and law enforcement."


The Gallup data indicate that 15% of all workers perceived that they had been subjected to some sort of discriminatory or unfair treatment.  When broken down into sub-groups, 31% of Asians surveyed reported incidents of discrimination, the largest percentage of any ethnic group, with African Americans constituting the second largest group at 26%. 

"We are particularly interested in those areas where the Gallup data on perceptions differs sharply from our actual experience of people filing charges," Chair Dominguez said.  "Additionally, we are most pleased to find that the EEOC's emphasis on proactive prevention of discrimination is mirrored by increased feelings of job satisfaction by those who rate their companies highly on matters of diversity."


While African American women and men experienced almost identical levels of discrimination according to the poll, at 27% and 26% respectively, there was a large discrepancy between the perceptions of discrimination of white women (22%) versus white men (3%).  The overall rate of perceived discrimination for persons identified as Hispanic was 18%, with Hispanic men more likely to perceive discrimination (20%) when compared with Hispanic women (15%).

EEOC's preliminary charge data for Fiscal Year 2005 show that employment discrimination continues to be a significant problem in the 21st century workplace.  According to the EEOC's preliminary statistics for the last fiscal year, which cover October 2004 through September 2005:

  • 75,428 charges of employment discrimination were filed with the agency nationwide.
  • 61% of charges were filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers race, color, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin and retaliation.
  • 20% of charges were filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • 18% of charges were filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The charges were broken down on the following bases of discrimination (note that percentages add up to more than 100% because multiple bases are often alleged in a single charge filing):

  • Race discrimination accounted for about 36% of all charges, following a historical trend.
  • Within the context of race filings, 82.5% of  charges were brought by African Americans, with Asian/Pacific Islanders filing only 3% -- a sharp contrast with the 30% of Asians employees who responding to the Gallup survey that they perceived discrimination on-the-job.
  • Sex discrimination accounted for 31% of all charges, with the majority of filings by women.
  • Retaliation accounted for 24% of Title VII charges, and about 29% of all charges.
  • National Origin accounted for about 11% of all charges, with 50% filed by Hispanics.

Commenting on the contrast between the Gallup findings and the number of discrimination charge filings with the EEOC, Chair Dominguez noted: "When you compare our most recent EEOC charge statistics with the Gallup data, we find that a far greater percentage of Hispanics and Asians perceive themselves to be discriminated against than actually file charges.  Through the continuation of strong enforcement and targeted outreach and education, the EEOC is striving to ensure that the promise of the Civil Rights Act of 40 years ago will continue to be fulfilled for succeeding generations of American workers."


The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the nation's anti-discrimination laws in the workplace.  Further information about the agency is available (in English and Spanish) on the agency's web site at