Have you experienced any form of workplace discrimination or bias in the past year? If so, you have plenty of company, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC reported earlier this week that a record number of private-sector discrimination charges were filed with the agency in fiscal year 2010, which ended on Sept. 30. Nearly 100,000 cases of alleged discrimination occurred, and for the first time ever, racial discrimination wasn't the No. 1 allegation. Topping the list was a category that covers bias in the form of retaliation taken against workers. There were 36,258 such cases in FY 2010.
That's not to say racial discrimination charges have diminished-that number grew in FY 2010 to 35,890, making it No. 2 on the list. Rounding out the top seven discrimination categories were gender, at 29,029; disability, at 25,165; age, at 23,264; national origin, at 11,304; and religion, at 3,790.
Of particular concern to many IT workers is age discrimination, which seems to be especially pervasive in the tech sector. In fact, my research for my recent posting, "The Frustration of the Overqualified' Job Candidate," made me wonder just how often employers use the term "overqualified" as a euphemism for "too old" to say that a candidate is unsuitable.
I raised that question during a recent conversation with Tom Silver, senior vice president of IT employment services provider Dice.com, and he was candid in his response:
Unfortunately, I think that in some cases [the euphemism] is true. I wish it weren't but I'd be lying to you if I told you that ageism doesn't exist. It definitely does, no doubt-not only in tech, but in other industries, too. I don't want to cast it, though, as that's the primary problem-I do believe that [the 'overqualified' issue] tends to be more about a skills mismatch than anything else.
In any case, I'd be very interested to hear from any readers who feel they're the victims of workplace discrimination, and especially from those who feel they've experienced age discrimination in the form of being told, either directly or indirectly, that they're "overqualified" for a position. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.