Evidence of Continuing Discrimination

There has been undeniable progress in many areas. Nevertheless, the evidence is overwhelming that the problems affirmative action seeks to address — widespread discrimination and exclusion and their ripple effects — continue to exist.

Minorities and women remain economically disadvantaged: the black unemployment rate remains over twice the white unemployment rate; 97 percent of senior managers in Fortune 1000 corporations are white males; (28) in 1992, 33.3 percent of blacks and 29.3 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty, compared to 11.6 percent of whites. (29) In 1993, Hispanic men were half as likely as white men to be managers or professionals; (30) only 0.4 percent of senior management positions in Fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 service industries are Hispanic. (31)

Blatant discrimination is a continuing problem in the labor market. Perhaps the most convincing evidence comes from “audit” studies, in which white and minority (or male and female) job seekers are given similar resumes and sent to the same set of firms to apply for a job. These studies often find that employers are less likely to interview or offer a job to minority applicants and to female applicants. (32)

Less direct evidence on discrimination comes from comparisons of earnings of blacks and whites, or males and females. (33) Even after adjusting for characteristics that affect earnings (such as years of education and work experience), these studies typically find that blacks and women are paid less than their white male counterparts. The average income for Hispanic women with college degrees is less than the average for white men with high school degrees. (34)

The rate of age-discrimination complaints increased 1.5 percent last year to 21.5 percent of all allegations. The rate of disability discrimination complaints rose 0.5 percent to 20.4 percent of all cases in 2001.

Race discrimination allegations accounted for the most complaints at 35.8 percent, sex followed at 31.1 percent. Overall, 431 job discrimination related lawsuits were filed last year, the EEOC said.

Last year alone, the Federal government received over 90,000 complaints of employment discrimination. Moreover 64,423 complaints were filed with state and local Fair Employment Practices Commissions, bringing the total last year to over 154,000. Thousands of other individuals filed complaints alleging racially motivated violence and discrimination in housing, voting, and public accommodations, to name just a few.

More non-litigation monetary benefits were paid out in 2001 than in previous years at $247.8 million. Monetary benefits obtained through litigation totaled $50.6 million.

Source: University of Rhode Island, Office of AA/EEO/Diversity and the article “EEOC Job-Discrimination Complaints Soar”, by The Associated Press-Diversity Inc.com, February 21, 2002.