The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



WASHINGTON - Ida L. Castro, Chairwoman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today discussed the trend of increased racial harassment in the workplace, including incidents of hangman's nooses, during remarks to the 91st Annual Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Baltimore.

"Since the late 1990s, EEOC has witnessed a disturbing national trend of increased racial harassment cases involving hangman's nooses in the workplace," said Chairwoman Castro. "Such instances of egregious discrimination have resulted in the Commission conducting more investigations and filing more lawsuits. These cases are not confined to a particular geographic area or region of the country. Rather, they are occurring from coast to coast and border to border."

EEOC has filed or recently resolved about 20 racial harassment lawsuits involving nooses in the workplace. Nine such suits are currently pending at agency district offices in Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte, and San Francisco. Moreover, dozens of other charges are currently under investigation at agency filed offices nationwide.

"As we commemorate EEOC's 35th anniversary this summer, it is sad to note the increase in recent years of the same type of behavior which compelled our nation to act 36 years ago. I hope that employers will once again focus on these important issues and assist EEOC in stemming the growth of harassment and retaliation charges and seek new ways to prevent discrimination. Employers who fail to do so are on notice that EEOC will combat egregious discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head."

Charges of racial harassment filed with EEOC have skyrocketed from 1.5% of all charges (9,757) in the 1980s, to 6% of all charges (47,175) in the 1990s, a nearly a five-fold increase. EEOC lawsuits alleging racial harassment have increased more than ten-fold from two such lawsuits in Fiscal Year 1996 to 22 in FY 1999 (5% of all suits filed that year).

In FY 2000, the Commission has already obtained approximately $10 million for victims of racial harassment through its administrative enforcement process (pre-litigation). In Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999, EEOC recovered a combined total of over $20 million for victims of racial harassment.

Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at

This page was last modified on July 13, 2000.

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