THE EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNTITY COMMISSION
DISPOSING OF AGE DISCRIMINATION CHARGES.
SOME HIDDEN FACTS
THE ILLUMINATOR OF MACON, GA
|Complain to your elected officials about age discrimination
in employment, and they probably will immediately refer you to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC).
The process for filing EEOC charges under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act(ADEA) very simple.1 You may complete the form in the office, or a form will be mailed to you. The .intake worker tells you that the staff will investigate your charge. Then you wait and wait and wait and wait. Several months later, you probably will receive a No Cause Finding.
You are not alone. As evident in a report of additional funding for the EEOC, published in the Legal News Network on Oct 4, 2000; long waiting periiods, and the EEOC;s negative reputation are well known by the legal profession2.
"Flush with cash from a $37 million budget increase last year, the much-maligned Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been under pressure from Congress to prove itself worthy of the raise....Now agency chairwoman Ida Castro, one year into her tenure at the helm, says the EEOC has delivered. At a commissioners' meeting last week reviewing the agency's performance in fiscal year 1999, Castro boasted that the EEOC is whittling down its backlog of cases, processing new complaints more quickly, and sending more disputes to mediation than ever before......"Below you will see an analysis of EEOC's own statistics that reveal rapid decline in new case receipts -- a finding that may explain, at least in part, the reduction in waiting times. However, nothing was said in the report about the consistently low proportions of Reasonable Cause findings, large numbers of no reasonable cause determinations and administrative closures. Since 1992, from 92%(once in 1999) to almost 98% of people who filed age discrimination charges received no cause findings.
The graphs, tables and explanations below demonstrate that, notwithstanding
political rhetoric, the consistently very high proportions of No
Reasonable Cause findings appear more convincingly related to gliches in
the legal and political systems, rather than the availability
of staff to investigate the cases. Therefore. additional
expenditures on EEOC salaries and staff is unlkely to reduce the proportion
of No Reasonable Cause findings in ADEA cases.
The EEOC's Definition of Terms is provided below to facilitate your understanding of the graphs, data tables and explanations.
|CASE RECEIPTS AND RESULTS BY THE|
|EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION IN|
|AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT COMPLAINTS|
|NO REAS CAUSE||12,075||11,481||6,872||8,309||11,084||11,163||9,863||9,172|
|NO REAS CAUSE||60.5||58.1||49.3||48.8||62.6||61.1||61.7||59.4|
||RAPIDLY DECLINING CASELOADS
Chart 1 shows the number of cases received plunged from 19,618 in 1994 to 14,141 in 1999 -- a loss of 5,477 cases or 28%
REASONABLE CAUSE FINDINGS ARE CONSISTENTLY VERY SMALL FRACTIONS OF RESULTS.
Chart 2 shows that the highest proportion of results is NO REASONABLE CAUSE The second highest group were ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURES According to the above definitions, these complainants could not be located, lost interest in their cases, took their cases to court before completion of the investigation,. . The red and green lines consistently laying at the bottom of the grid are Reasonable Cause and Withdrawal with benefits.
|Percentages of Administrative Closures Vary
Inversely with percentages of No Reasonable Cause Findings.
The green and blue lines mirror each other; as No Reasonable Cause findings rise, Administrative Closures decline.
Charts Nos 2 and 3 illustrate changes in number of cases received from year to year. whether and the extent to which each variable changes in relation to the others, and whether changes are in the same or opposite direction to each other. .The statistical procedure for measuring these observations is correlation. However, correlations are not evidence that one variable actually causes the other; they are only indices of how much and the direction one item varies with others.
Fig. 4 is known as a Correlation Matrix. It demonstrates the extent and direction of patterns of varying among several variables. The larger the number(ie: coefficient); the more the the variables correlate., For example, in Fig. 4, find "REASONABLE CAUSE" , the fourth row on the first column on the left and follow the row until it intersects with column headed "ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURES".The number is -0.249, indicating a negligible relationship(in negative direction) between the two variables.
A BETTER MEASURE
Now, look at the next row, at "NO REASONABLE CAUSE", to where it intersects with "ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURES". Here you find in red. -895, a high negative corelation between NO REASONABLE CAUSE and "ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURES". However, a superior. easier to understand measure of joint variation, is the Coefficient of Determination. It is the corelation coefficient squared, and estimates the percentages of expected replication of the relationship.
Again, look at "NO REASONABLE CAUSE AND ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSURES. The number for Administrative Closures and Reasonable Cause (-)0.2492 = 0.06 =6%. Therefore the probability of replication is about 6% of the time. The number for "Administrative Closures and "No Reasonable Cause is (-)0.8952 = .80, an impressive 80% probability of replication of these results..
While the reported shortening of the waiting periods can plausibly be explained by caseload cuts, no signicant relationship is found with the number of Reasonable cause findings. Clearly shown is that as Administrative closures rise, No Reasonable Cause findings decrease. We can then assume that the more people who become disgusted with the waiting times and staff lethargy, lose interest in their cases, the lower will be the No Reasonable Cause Findings..
KEEPING THE LID SHUT ON A RATTLING PANDORA'S BOX
EEOC Commissioner, Castro's press release, promising to reduce the waiting time, is good politics. The age-old bureaucratic Funding Excuse Game-- "we are slow in processing charges because we are short of staff. because we are short of funding" -- tells tax payers to give them more money and they will cut the waiting times and give better service.. Notice nothing is said about more thorough investigations or more Reasonable Cause Findings in ADEA cases. That would open a Pandora's box that policy makers and EEOC bureaucrats are striving to keep tightly closed.
Appellate court opinions(cases on appeal from federal district courts) are excellent sources for learning about court treatment of ADEA cases. They reveal laborious, expensive legal procedures lasting several years, that most of the time ultimately culminate in dismissal of workers' cases --without trials. Yes, the judges dismiss the cases, by a process called Summary Judgment, without trials.
The following excerpt from 9th Circuit Court in Colman V Quaker Oats illustrates the formidable burdens of litigating ADEA CASES There are two smoking guns in this case: (a) -- evidence that a supervisor told employees that in a Reduction in Force, these workers were called "not young and promotable", and (b) that two thirds of workers layed off were over age 40. In addition, the EEOC found Reasonable Cause in this case. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed in favor of Quaker Oats because the workers failed to caste adequate doubt on the employer's articulated legitimate reason for terminating them.
"...29 U.S.C. SS 621 et seq., makes it "unlawful for an employer . . .to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual [who is at least 40 years of age] . . . because of such individual's age." Id. at SS 623(a), 631(a). To establish a violation of ADEARead the law for its meaning. "(ADEA) makes it "unlawful for an employer . . .to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual [who is at least 40 years of age] . . . because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. SS 621 et seq., Id. at SS 623(a), 631(a).
under the disparate treatment theory of liability, Jeney, Gentile, and Coleman "must first establish a prima facie case of discrimination. If [they do so], the burden then shifts to[Quaker] to articulate a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its employment decision. Then, in order to prevail, [they]must demonstrate that [Quaker's] alleged reason for the adverse employment decision is a pretext for another motive
which is discriminatory." Wallis v. J.R. Simplot Co., 26 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 1994). Despite the burden shifting, the ultimate burden of proof remains always on the former employees to show that Quaker intentionally discriminated because of their age"... See Rose v. Wells Fargo & Co., 902 F.2d 1417, 1420-21 (9th Cir. 1990 PERRY E. COLEMAN; BARBARA J. COLEMAN, husband and wife, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CV-96-0828-PHX-RCB tHE QUAKER OATS COMPANY, a New Jersey corporation, Defendant-Appellee D.C. . THE QUAKER OATS COMPANY, a New Jersey corporation Defendant-Appellee No. 99-158854. 4
In this context, It is not unlawful for employers to refuse to hire or discharge an individual for legitimate reasons other than age. Therefore, employers may fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual if the given reason is not age. And the burden remains always with workers to prove that the employers' given reasons are pretexts(coverups) for age discrimination. ADEA, therefore, instructs employers in how to explain their employment decisions that pertain to older workers, rather than protect older workers from discrimination. We could say that the ADEA protects older workers from being told when they are being discriminated against because of their age.
Given current judicial practices, the ADEA serves political needs by deluding older workers with the notion that they are protected by the law. Without this law, crowds of angry, unemployed and under-employed older workers would pressure their elected representatives to end labor market ageism. The ADEA allows politicians to squirm out of responding to these issues by pointing to the law and their unhappy constituents to the EEOC.
Since the courts are maintainiNg impenetrable barriers to proving age discrimination, the EEOC is powerless to intervene. Moreover, EEOC attorneys are aware of judicial attitudes and policiies in ADEA cases. They are unlikely to risk embarrassment by attaching reasonable cause finding to cases that are certain to be thrown out by the courts. Therefore, pouring more federal money in the EEOC may , to some extent, speed up the processing, but is unlikely to increase reasonable cause findings.
Meanwhile, angry, freshly discharged or rejected older workers vent their anger -- within the walls of the EEOC offices -- rather than on the streets or in their elected representatives' offices. They are told their charges will be investigated, and, for awhile, they may feel that something will be done for them. As time lapses, their anger subsides. They may find a new job or be distracted by other events in their lives The EEOC, therefore is a cooling out agency that delays most complainants from discovering that attorneys shun their cases as well as the filing of cases in the few cases with attorneys.
By providing an official, professional atmosphere and procedures for cooling out rage, and by delaying discovery that the courts are unlkikely to help complainants, the EEOC provides a cooling system forestalling social and political discord. Given that policy makers will not be motivated to improve conditions for older workers until they are compelled to respond to a crises ensuing from these issues, , the EEOC is maintaining rather than eliminating labor market ageism.
Persons planning to file Age Discrimination suits in the courts are mandated to first file the charge in and receive from the EEOC a Right To Sue Letter. Be sure to contact your attorney or the EEOC for crucial informtion on state and federal time limits for filing charges and duration the case must be in the custody of the EEOC
All information in this web site is intended
only for general information,
not as legal advice for any specific situation. For legal advice pertaining to
your particular circumstances, you are advised to consult a licensed attorney.
REFERENCES AND LINKS
1. The Age Discrimination In Employment Act of 1967. 29 USC 621 et seq.
Greene, Jena, EEOC WHITTLING AWAY BACKLOG
Legal Times, Law.com, Oct.4, 1999.
AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACT CASES(ADEA)CHARGES FY 1992-FY 1999.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission web site.
.4. Coleman, Perry E, Barbara V The
Quaker Oats Company. 9th Cir., No. 99-15885, 6, 7.
Argued and submitted, Feb. 17, 2000
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