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What are the most common workplace discrimination cases?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination |

People think of discrimination as largely an issue of the past, but that isn’t very realistic. Although discrimination is now easier for the average person to identify, it is still a common issue in the workplace.

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination claims continue to be a pressing issue. In 2020, for example, the EEOC secured $439.2 million in compensation for people who brought discrimination claims against their employers.

Looking at those successful claims can give you an idea of the most common forms of discrimination.

Religion, color and national origin

Some kinds of discrimination are against the law but occur very infrequently. For example, claims of genetic information discrimination made up just 0.7% of the claims made in 2020. Equal Pay Act claims accounted for 1.5% of the EEOC’s successful charges.

2,404 people brought claims of religious discrimination against their employer, which made up 3.6% of the claims. Claims about discrimination based on color accounted for 5.3% of the total claims, while national origin was the cause of discrimination and 9.5% of the cases reported.


Most age discrimination claims involve workers over the age of 40. However, sometimes younger workers also successfully bring age discrimination claims. In 2020, there were more than 14,000 age discrimination claims, making up 21% of the total successful claims that year.


Discrimination based on sex is a widespread issue. There are many businesses and professions that tend to skew toward one sex or the other. 21,398 successful sex discrimination claims occurred in 2020, which amounted to 31.7% of the total claims.


Racial discrimination is a constant issue in the employment sector. More than 22,000 people brought successful claims in 2020, making racial discrimination responsible for 32.7% of the annual reported discrimination.


The single most common form of direct discrimination is disability discrimination. More than 24,000 workers brought successful claims about employers mistreating them or denying them disability accommodations in 2020. 36.1% of all discrimination claims involve disability discrimination.

It is worth noting that the EEOC noted that retaliation is the most common reason that people bring claims. A full 55.8% of all discrimination charges related to the employer retaliating against the worker. Understanding how common discrimination in the workplace still is can help people fight back if they experience it themselves.