NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Job Discrimination Lawsuits Soar

January 17, 2000

Private lawsuits alleging discrimination in the workplace more than tripled in the 1990s, according to the Justice Department. Major factors in the upsurge were new civil rights laws -- including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

  • Job-bias suits filed in U.S. District Courts grew from 6,936 in 1990 to 21,540 in 1998.
  • Civil rights complaints of all varieties more than doubled from 1990 to 1998 -- from 18,793 to 42,354.
  • Only a tiny fraction were federal government lawsuits against a business, individual or government for alleged civil rights violations -- 747 cases in 1990 versus 672 in 1998.
  • The federal government was itself accused of bias in 9.2 percent of civil rights suits in 1990, compared to 5.6 percent in 1998.

Lawsuits alleging bias in housing, hotels, restaurants or other public accommodations rose from 342 cases in 1990 to 838 cases in 1998.

Employment cases accounted for 65 percent of the increase in civil rights cases, typically alleging employer bias in hiring, firing, promotion or pay.

Voting rights complaints peaked at 500 in 1992 -- primarily because of challenges to redistricting after the 1990 census -- then declined to 108 cases by 1998.

Source: Michael J. Sniffen (AP), "Workplace Bias Suits Soared in 1990s," USA Today, January 17, 2000.


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