Nearly 1 in 6 workers polled say they faced bias at work


December 21, 2005

Nearly one out of six U.S. employees say they were discriminated against at work in the past year, with women more than twice as likely as men to claim bias over hiring and pay, according to a new poll.

The poll released this month by the Gallup Organization found that middle-aged women and minorities were more likely to report being victims. Out of the 1,252 part-time and full-time workers interviewed by telephone, women were more than twice as likely to claim discrimination (22 percent) as men (9 percent).

Among racial groups, Asians and blacks led the pack (31 percent and 26 percent, respectively) in saying they were treated unfairly, followed by Hispanics (18 percent) and then whites (12 percent).

By age, 18 percent of employees alleging discrimination were 40-49, followed by 17 percent for those 50-59, and 15 percent for workers 30-39. Complaints by those 60 and older, as well younger workers 18-29, were divided evenly at 11 percent.

The Gallup poll estimated that the rate of illegal discrimination is probably between 9 percent and 15 percent, since many of the complaints alleged unfairness involving favoritism, sexual orientation and education that are not generally covered by federal law.

Among other findings:

Most complaints involved gender bias (26 percent), followed by race (23 percent), age (17 percent), favoritism (12 percent) and disability (9 percent).

Most allegations centered on promotion decisions (33 percent), followed by pay (29 percent), hiring (13 percent), harassment (11 percent), work conditions (3 percent) and assignments (2 percent).

The poll was conducted in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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