Where Wisconsin ranks in federal discrimination complaints nationwide

MADISON, Wis. — Recently-published data shows Wisconsin ranks near the highest in the country for both the top rate of Black, Asian and Hispanic workers who file federal discrimination complaints, as well as policy changes in workplaces after a federal labor agency gets involved.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst analyzed hundreds of thousands of discrimination complaints made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Why it matters

This is a first look at complaint data of this nature; the EEOC typically only publishes data related to lawsuits, which amounts to only one or two hundred a year. Tens of thousands of complaints are filed annually nationwide, UMass researchers said, but that information is not typically made public.

The data covers complaints made between 2012 and 2016.

Wisconsin ranked nationwide

  • Black charges: Wisconsin ranks #6 among states and territories for the highest rate of Black workers who file discrimination complaints with the EEOC about their workplaces
  • Asian, Hispanic charges: Wisconsin ranks #4 for the highest rate of Asian as well as Hispanic workers who file discrimination complaints with the EEOC about their workplaces
  • All races: Wisconsin falls closer to the middle for the rate of discrimination complaints filed by all races, coming in at 28th
  • Mandated changes: Wisconsin does better than most for implementing mandated policy changes following a discrimination complaint, with 13% of complaints resulting in changes at their workplaces
  • Retaliation: Wisconsin ranks 9th from the bottom in rates of retaliation, making it one of the better states for a lack of retaliation from complaints, at 34% facing retaliation
  • Nationwide and in Wisconsin, 63% went on to still lose their jobs (through termination or resignation or other means) after filing federal complaints
  • For more, visit the Center for Employment Equity from the University of Massachusetts Amherst

State agencies in the spotlight

Federal discrimination complaints have been filed for at least two state employers this year. In April, a Black administrator at the DOJ filed a complaint. This September, a Black employee at the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance is alleging retaliation in a federal discrimination complaint filed with the EEOC.

‘I had a bullseye on my back’

A current OCI employee says she’s been suspended twice after first complaining about racial discrimination to her employer in April. Now, the OCI is embroiled in a federal investigation; a spokesperson for Wisconsin’s Department of Administration says no discrimination based on race or retaliation for the worker’s complaint occurred.

Read her story here: ‘I had a bullseye on my back’: Wisconsin state employee files federal discrimination complaint