It turns out that an enormous increase in complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in recent years was largely caused by an influx of cases involving religious objections to forced Covid 19 vaccinations that were required by employers, sometimes under government pressure.
In Fiscal Year 2022, the EEOC saw the number of charges leap by more than 10,000 over the prior year, note attorneys Andrew Scroggins and James Nasiri of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm.
Workers filed a total of 73,485 charges with the commission last year, an increase of approximately 12,000 charges as compared to FY 2021. In FY 2021, workers filed 2,111 charges alleging religious discrimination, but in FY 2022 the EEOC recorded a whopping 13,814 religion-based charges.
“This uptick appears to be almost entirely attributable to the Covid 19 pandemic: a striking rise of over 600% in religious discrimination claims, with many filed by applicants and employees seeking religious exemptions to companies’ Covid 19 vaccine mandates.”
To file a federal anti-discrimination lawsuit, an employee is required to initially file a charge with the EEOC as a first essential step, the lawyers say.
“The EEOC’s charge data can provide an interesting perspective on the status of the employment discrimination space. Indeed, EEOC charges are a direct reflection of employees’ views about how they are being treated in the workplace.” Scroggins and Nasiri point out.
“While vaccine mandates are not as common now as during the height of the pandemic, the EEOC’s FY 2022 charge data suggests that employers may be grappling with the ramifications for some time to come, as EEOC investigations continue, and some charges take on a second life in courthouses around the country.”