The number of discrimination charges reached a record high last year, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that investigates discrimination charges on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, disability, and genetic information. Total charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal 2010 increased about 7.1 percent year on year, to 99,922, and resulted in 20,149 "merit resolutions," or closures with a favorable outcome for employees (suggesting at least some merit to the charge). Disability discrimination charges increased the most, 17.3 percent, followed by religion at 11.9 percent. The most common claim was retaliation—such as firing, demoting, or harassing employees after they complain about discrimination—followed by race and sex-based discrimination.

Texas, the second-most populous state in the U.S., had the most merit resolutions, followed by California and Florida. While large states often had more merit resolutions, they did not always increase with population. Some small states such as Arkansas and Mississippi also had high numbers of merit resolutions.

Click here to see which states had the highest rates of workplace discrimination, based on merit resolutions with private employers, and state and local government employers.
The number of discrimination charges reached a record high last year, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that investigates discrimination charges on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, disability, and genetic information. Total charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal 2010 increased about 7.1 percent year on year, to 99,922, and resulted in 20,149 "merit resolutions," or closures with a favorable outcome for employees (suggesting at least some merit to the charge). Disability discrimination charges increased the most, 17.3 percent, followed by religion at 11.9 percent. The most common claim was retaliation—such as firing, demoting, or harassing employees after they complain about discrimination—followed by race and sex-based discrimination.

Texas, the second-most populous state in the U.S., had the most merit resolutions, followed by California and Florida. While large states often had more merit resolutions, they did not always increase with population. Some small states such as Arkansas and Mississippi also had high numbers of merit resolutions.

Click here to see which states had the highest rates of workplace discrimination, based on merit resolutions with private employers, and state and local government employers.

Twenty States With the Most Workplace Discrimination

Record Charges
Record Charges
The number of discrimination charges reached a record high last year, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that investigates discrimination charges on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, disability, and genetic information. Total charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal 2010 increased about 7.1 percent year on year, to 99,922, and resulted in 20,149 "merit resolutions," or closures with a favorable outcome for employees (suggesting at least some merit to the charge). Disability discrimination charges increased the most, 17.3 percent, followed by religion at 11.9 percent. The most common claim was retaliation—such as firing, demoting, or harassing employees after they complain about discrimination—followed by race and sex-based discrimination.

Texas, the second-most populous state in the U.S., had the most merit resolutions, followed by California and Florida. While large states often had more merit resolutions, they did not always increase with population. Some small states such as Arkansas and Mississippi also had high numbers of merit resolutions.

Click here to see which states had the highest rates of workplace discrimination, based on merit resolutions with private employers, and state and local government employers.
No. 20 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Washington
No. 20 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Washington
Population:* 6,724,540 (13th-largest state)
Merit resolutions:** 353
As a share of all resolutions:** 22.6%
Compensation:** $5,949,130

Retaliation was the top complaint in Washington State, followed by discrimination based on national origin, disability, and sex, show merit resolutions data from fiscal 2010. U.S. Census Bureau 2005 to 2009 estimates show that 12.1 percent of the state's population are foreign born (though national origin discrimination can be directed at people based on ethnicity and accent, or who appear to be of a certain ethnic background even if they are not).

* Population data on all slides from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010

** Merit resolution data on all slides from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Data refer to private employers and state and local government employers (not federal government) and cover the period from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, the most recent fiscal year available. Merit resolutions refer to charges filed with the EEOC with outcomes favorable to the employee, including negotiated settlements, withdrawals with benefits, successful conciliations, and unsuccessful conciliations. Compensation refers to monetary benefits obtained through these resolutions but not through litigation.
No. 19 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Arkansas
No. 19 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Arkansas
Population: 2,915,918 (32nd-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 376
As a share of all resolutions: 23%
Compensation: $4,954,863

Race-based discrimination is the most common claim in merit resolutions in Arkansas, followed by retaliation and sex discrimination. More than 80 percent of the labor force in Arkansas is white; blacks represent about 14.3 percent, and Hispanics 4.6 percent, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
No. 18 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Mississippi
No. 18 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Mississippi
Population: 2,967,297 (31st-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 392
As a share of all resolutions: 21.8%
Compensation: $2,915,151

Race-based discrimination was the most common claim in merit resolutions in Mississippi, followed by sex discrimination and retaliation. Nearly two-thirds of the state's workforce is white, one-third is black, and 2.2 percent is Hispanic, according to 2010 BLS data.
No. 17 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Missouri
No. 17 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Missouri
Population: 5,988,927 (18th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 463
As a share of all resolutions: 16.8%
Compensation: $7,726,179

Sex-based discrimination was the most common claim in merit resolutions in Missouri, followed by retaliation and race discrimination. Men comprise more than half of the workforce in Missouri and women represent 48.7 percent. More than 86 percent of the labor force is white, 10.9 percent is black, and 2.8 percent is Hispanic, estimates the BLS.
No. 16 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Arizona
No. 16 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Arizona
Population: 6,392,017 (16th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 496
As a share of all resolutions: 18.3%
Compensation: $7,138,150

Among merit resolutions in Arizona, retaliation is the most common claim, followed by sex discrimination and disability. Women make up about 45 percent of the state's workforce, according to BLS.
No. 15 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Virginia
No. 15 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Virginia
Population: 8,001,024 (12th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 499
As a share of all resolutions: 14.6%
Compensation: $8,565,690

Sex-based discrimination was the top charge in merit resolutions in Virginia, followed by retaliation and race and disability discrimination. BLS estimates women made up about 48 percent of the labor force in Virginia in 2010, whites 73.5 percent, blacks 18.5 percent, and Hispanics 6.8 percent.
No. 14 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Colorado
No. 14 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Colorado
Population: 5,029,196 (22nd-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 509
As a share of all resolutions: 20.2%
Compensation: $8,357,930

In merit resolutions in Colorado, retaliation was the most common claim, followed by discrimination based on sex and national origin. BLS estimates that 45.5 percent of the state's workforce are women, and the Census Bureau estimates that 9.8 percent of the population is foreign born.
No. 13 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Michigan
No. 13 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Michigan
Population: 9,883,640 (8th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 559
As a share of all resolutions: 22.8%
Compensation: $8,501,992

Among charges with merit resolutions in Michigan, disability discrimination was the most common claim, followed by race and sex discrimination. Around 287,000 people with disabilities in Michigan are employed, according to data on the news site disabled-world.com.
No. 12 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: New York
No. 12 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: New York
Population: 19,378,102 (3rd-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 609
As a share of all resolutions: 16.9%
Compensation: $30,082,921

Retaliation was the top claim in merit resolutions in New York in fiscal 2010. Sex, disability, and age discrimination were the next most-common complaints. Women made up 47.6 percent of the state's workforce in 2010, estimates BLS, and about 1,295,000 working-age people had disabilities in 2006, reported New York Makes Work Pay, a statewide initiative intended to improve the rate of employment among disabled people.
No. 11 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Alabama
No. 11 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Alabama
Population: 4,779,736 (23rd-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 650
As a share of all resolutions: 16.7%
Compensation: $8,379,880

Race discrimination is the most common claim in Alabama, followed by sex and retaliation, according to EEOC merit resolution data. About 73.4 percent of the state's workforce is white, 24.5 percent is black, 3.9 percent is Hispanic, and 47.8 percent are women, estimates the BLS.
No. 10 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Ohio
No. 10 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Ohio
Population: 11,536,504 (7th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 680
As a share of all resolutions: 19.8%
Compensation: $10,408,531

Retaliation was the top complaint in merit charges in Ohio. The next most-common claims were sex, race, and age-based discrimination. BLS estimates that 48 percent of Ohio's workforce are women, 87 percent is white, 10.4 percent is black, and 2.5 percent is Hispanic.
No. 9 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Tennessee
No. 9 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Tennessee
Population: 6,346,105 (17th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 800
As a share of all resolutions: 22.3%
Compensation: $8,009,008

In merit resolutions in Tennessee, race-based discrimination was the most common claim in fiscal 2010, followed by retaliation and sex discrimination. About 80.6 percent of the labor force in Tennessee is white, 16.6 percent is black, and 3.8 percent is Hispanic, estimates BLS.
No. 8 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: North Carolina
No. 8 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: North Carolina
Population: 9,535,483 (10th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 823
As a share of all resolutions: 15.5%
Compensation: $12,641,709

In North Carolina, race-based discrimination was the No. 1 complaint in merit resolutions, followed by retaliation and sex discrimination. Blacks represent 20.8 percent of North Carolina's workforce, Hispanics 7.7 percent, and whites 73.8 percent, the BLS data indicate.
No. 7 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Pennsylvania
No. 7 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Pennsylvania
Population: 12,702,379 (6th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 860
As a share of all resolutions: 24.9%
Compensation: $15,385,986

The most common claim in merit charges in Pennsylvania was disability discrimination, followed by sex discrimination, retaliation, and age discrimination. In Pennsylvania, more than 530,000 working-age individuals have disabilities, reports disabled-world.com.
No. 6 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Illinois
No. 6 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Illinois
Population: 12,830,632 (5th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,001
As a share of all resolutions: 14.7%
Compensation: $17,126,689

In charges with merit resolutions in Illinois, retaliation was the most common complaint, followed by race and sex discrimination. Hispanics represented 13.3 percent of the workforce in 2010, blacks 12.3 percent, whites 82.3 percent, and women 46.2 percent, the BLS estimates.
No. 5 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Indiana
No. 5 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Indiana
Population: 6,483,802 (15th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,063
As a share of all resolutions: 22.9%
Compensation: $11,751,622

Despite being the 15th most populous state, Indiana has a high rate of workplace discrimination, based on merit resolutions. Race discrimination was the most common claim in merit resolutions in Indiana, followed by disability and sex discrimination. Whites represented 90.5 percent of the workforce in 2010, blacks 7.6 percent, and Hispanics 4.9 percent, according to BLS data.
No. 4 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Georgia
No. 4 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Georgia
Population: 9,687,653 (9th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,288
As a share of all resolutions: 21.6%
Compensation: $21,356,922

Race-based discrimination was the most common claim in merit resolutions in Georgia, according to EEOC data from fiscal 2010, followed by retaliation and sex discrimination. About 29.1 percent of Georgia's labor force is black, 8.8 is Hispanic, and 66.5 percent is white, estimates the BLS.
No. 3 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Florida
No. 3 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Florida
Population: 18,801,310 (4th-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,409
As a share of all resolutions: 18.9%
Compensation: $22,067,442

Retaliation was the most common claim in merit resolutions in Florida, followed by sex and race-based discrimination. Women make up about 47 percent of the state's workforce, blacks 14.8 percent, Hispanics about 22 percent, and whites 81.6 percent, BLS figures show.
No. 2 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: California
No. 2 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: California
Population: 37,253,956 (Largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,600
As a share of all resolutions: 21.3%
Compensation: $23,046,657

Merit resolution data show that retaliation was the most common complaint in California, the most populous state in the U.S., followed by national origin and sex-based discrimination. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 26.8 percent of California's population is foreign-born.
No. 1 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Texas
No. 1 State with Highest Incidence of Workplace Discrimination: Texas
Population: 25,145,561 (2nd-largest state)
Merit resolutions: 1,780
As a share of all resolutions: 17.2%
Compensation: $33,193,892

Texas had more merit resolutions than any other state in fiscal 2010—more than 11 percent greater than runner-up California, more than five times the number in No. 20 Washington state, and 445 times the number in Vermont, which had the lowest rate of merit resolutions in the U.S. In Texas, retaliation was the top claim, followed by sex, race, and disability-based discrimination, according to EEOC data. The BLS 2010 survey shows that women represent about 44.5 percent of the state's workforce, Hispanics 36 percent, blacks 11.6 percent, and whites 82.3 percent.