Special Report

States With the Most Claims of Unlawful Firings

In these pandemic years, there has been a major upheaval in employment, with employees leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers, even as the unemployment rate remains extremely low. This also comes at a time when complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are the lowest they have been since 1992, the year the federal government began enforcing the Americans with Disability Act. (This is the state where the most people are quitting their jobs.)

Fewer discriminatory firings may be an indicator that jobs are not only more available, but also more secure than in times past. It could also mean that some employees are choosing to leave their jobs when they experience discrimination, rather than take legal action.

In March of this year, Lensa, a job search website, completed an analysis of employment dismissals, focusing on those in which dismissed employees filed complaints with the EEOC. In the five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of charges of unlawful firings based on national origin, religion, age, race, sex, disability, and retaliation decreased, with the first four categories showing the largest drop, ranging from 28.89% to 32.43%. 

The decreases in sex, disability, and retaliation complaints to the EEOC were less pronounced, but still significant: 18.93%, 9.80%, and 5.34% respectively. In total, charges of unfair dismissals dropped from 157,232 complaints in 2015 to 128,382 in 2020.

On the other hand, the number of complaints in three other categories – complaints based on the Equal Pay Act, color (as opposed to race), and the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act – increased. While the number of complaints in these three categories grew by 0.72%, 25.73% and 71.21%, respectively, they accounted for only 4,982 out of a total of 133,364 complaints in 2020, about 3.7%.

The number of EE0C complaints for wrongful dismissal varies greatly across the country. To find the states with the most unfair dismissals, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Lensa’s Discriminating States and Industries, an overview of workplace discrimination and dismissals across the U.S. States were ranked by the number of complaints per 100,000 people in 2020. Dismissal data came from the EEOC and population data from the Census Bureau, according to Lensa.

The District of Columbia has the worst record, worse than any of the states, with 60 complaints per 100,000 people. Still, there was improvement over the years, with the number of complaints based on race dropping from 281 in 2009 to 181 in 2020 and the number of complaints based on gender dropping from 234 to 145, according to EEOC data. Retaliation and race were the categories with the most complaints. (See 24 jobs that could ruin your hearing.)

Maine had the lowest number of unfair dismissal charges per capita, most of them based on retaliation, sex, and age, in that order. While the number of total complaints was up from 31 in 2009 to 39 in 2021, complaints fluctuated from 27 to 49 in that time frame. In 2020, disability and retaliation were the largest categories, in that order.

Here are the states with the most unfair dismissal charges

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