Workplace Discrimination Charges at an All-Time High

Don Tennant

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, 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

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 13, 2011 2:25 AM Anon Anon  says:

How's almost being fired for 5 or less anonymous, unsubstantiated complaints about your tone of voice over the course of a year for discrimination.  especially when I don't even get the right to refute any of the baseless claims.

Jan 17, 2011 6:32 AM mataj mataj  says:

Programming is a young man's game, so don't stay too long

As a programmer you reach your end level in about four years. After about four years you are at your top in a specific development environment. (See also references on this site who point this out) When you have 20 years experience as a programmer, you are no super experienced top gun, you are just an old farth. Your problem solving capacities are not bigger then after 5 years experience. You will not grow anymore. In most organisations your salary will not grow either. None of the programmers I've met had a career plan.

Of course not, somebody with a career plan wouldn't start his career with programming in the first place- nor with any other similar IT job, for that matter. Right or wrong, that's the reality of it. It's something everyone should have in mind before incurring that student debt.


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