10 states with the most workplace discrimination charges

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Despite the recent emphasis on DEI in the corporate world, U.S. companies are still falling short of their promises to be diverse, inclusive and safe. Where those businesses are located could be playing a key role in why these efforts are falling flat.

Labor and employment law firm Duddy, Goodwin and Pollard used data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to rank which states had the highest rate of workplace race-related discrimination charges between 2009 and 2023. The results revealed that the states with the most total charges didn’t necessarily have the biggest proportion of race charges. Rather, other factors played out when it came to which states made it to the top. 

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“There are two measurable factors we could consider when analyzing why racial charges are more predominant in some U.S. states more than others,” says Jamie Goodwin, managing partner at Duddy, Goodwin and Pollard. “[Those are] the racial make-up of that state and how litigious they tend to be with respect to actually filing discrimination charges.”

Read more: This is how the 2024 election results could impact DEI efforts

Goodwin points out that the states that made it to the top three, namely Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, have the highest percentage of Black people in the U.S. For example, Black Americans make up 45% of the Mississippi population. Both Alabama and Mississippi also have higher rates of people registering for charges: In Alabama, there are 776 race discrimination charges per 100,000 residents, according to the EEOC.

Ultimately, companies have to do more than recruit diverse talent — they have to support, promote and retain them. Notably, just eight Fortune 500 companies have Black CEOs, underlining how rare it is for Black talent to climb the corporate hierarchy. Employers may have to reflect on whether their culture works against their DEI initiatives. 

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Here is the breakdown of which states have the highest rate of workplace racial discrimination charges.

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