2017 EEOC Discrimination Statistics

Statistics for 2017 workplace discrimination claims were recently released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Retaliation claims were again at the top of the list with nearly 50 percent of 2017 claims being filed for retaliation.

  • A total of 84,524 claims were filed in 2017 with 41,097 (48.8 percent) being for retaliation.
  • Race discrimination claims accounted for 28,528 (33.9 percent).
  • Disability claims accounted for 26,838 (31.9 percent).
  • Sex discrimination claims accounted for 25,605 (30.4 percent).
  • Age discrimination claims accounted for 18,375 (21.8 percent).
  • National Origin discrimination claims accounted for 8,299 (9.8 percent).
  • Religion discrimination claims accounted for 3,346 (4.1 percent).
  • Color discrimination claims accounted for 3,240 (3.8 percent).
  • Equal Pay Act claims totaled 996 (1.2 percent).
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) accounted for 206 (.2 percent).

 *The above numbers exceed 100 percent because multiple categories are sometimes charged.

Of the charges filed at the federal level through the EEOC; 5,423 (6.4 percent) were from California.  In California, employees have the option of filing either through the EEOC or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or both.  Retaliation accounted for 50.7 percent of the state charges and Disability was second with 35.3 percent.

California law emphasizes the employer’s duty to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  Best practices include training for supervisors on definitions of retaliation and company policy as well as a senior management review of discipline and termination decisions before taking action on any employee who has expressed or filed a claim of discrimination.

Call or email San Luis Personnel Services if you are interested in learning more or in scheduling a class.

Julia S. Aguilar

AB 5 is Gone for Now!

Many businesses, including staffing agencies such as San Luis Personnel Services, were greatly relieved to receive the news today that California AB 5 is “dead for now”. The California legislature considered the bill in 2017 and continued it to 2018 with a hearing scheduled for January 18th in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The Chairperson of the Assembly Appropriations Committee declined to take the bill up for a vote in the committee which effectively killed the bill for 2018. Unfortunately, the matter could come again in a different or a new bill later in 2018.

AB 5 was definitely a “Job-Killer” bill and one of the most ill-conceived bills that I have read in many years. AB 5 required employers with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to existing part-time, nonexempt employees before hiring or using additional employees or subcontractors, including temporary workers.

Requiring businesses and hiring authorities to first offer jobs to any part-time, qualified employees and to justify why a “new” employee is being hired creates laborious and unnecessary work for Human Resources and other hiring authorities to evaluate every part-time employee’s skills for any job opening. Equally important, it would frequently prevent businesses from hiring the applicant who is the most qualified for the position. Instead, businesses would have to increase the hours for less qualified employees resulting in lower productivity. It is my opinion that some companies would decide to just not hire additional employees due to the added workload, the loss of flexibility in hiring, the removal of choice to hire the best candidate and the fear of litigation.

There is no doubt that AB 5 would have destroyed many jobs –harming temporary and contract workers, unemployed candidates seeking employment, staffing firms, businesses and the California economy.

Congratulations and thank you to the California Chamber of Commerce, the American Staffing Association, the California Staffing Association and all others who worked to be sure that legislators understood the damage that could be done to employers and prospective employees by AB 5.

Julia S. Aguilar
Principal, CSP

More Jobs than Workers

The greatest challenge facing many businesses in 2018 will be the shortage of applicants seeking jobs. “Now Hiring” signs are posted in windows, “Now Hiring” banners hang from the fronts of stores, recruitment ads appear on company websites, recruiting websites, job boards and in various media.

The share of Americans either employed or actively looking for work has shrunk to 62.7% from 66% in 2007, the beginning of the 2008-09 economic downturn. The reason for the decrease is still up for debate. While reasons are unclear, the trend is definitely a troubling one. There was a 20% decrease in men’s workforce participation and a 25% decrease in women’s workforce participation between 1999 and 2015.

There is no doubt that the unemployment rate is low in many places and the unemployment rate for us in San Luis Obispo is extremely low at 3.7% (9/17). Five % unemployment is sometimes referred to as full employment so 3.7% makes quite a statement!

Wages have remained stagnant despite unemployment reaching new lows. Minimum wage increases in California will likely result in higher wages for low to mid-level positions. This may entice some to reenter the workforce.

The “skills gap” is likely to be a continuing problem. Finding highly trained workers to fill specialized positions is particularly difficult. Manufacturing companies have found this particularly an issue as more manufacturing jobs require intermediate computer training.

Companies will need to take a serious look at wages for 2018 and beyond. Wages may need to increase in order to hire and retain the skilled workers needed to grow businesses. Companies will also need to consider hiring workers who do not have all of the desired skills, but have some skills and good potential.

This bodes well for the temporary staffing industry. The “try the employees out before making a long-term hiring decision” may be the key to hiring the employees you need in 2018!

Julie Aguilar

Thanksgiving – Time to Give Thanks to Our Mentors

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach back and thank some of those who helped you throughout your career by serving as mentors.  A mentor may be a friend, a family member, a supervisor, a company executive or a co-worker.

One of my most memorable mentors was Elvira Booker, my supervisor when I was an Eligibility Supervisor in Social Services in Richmond, Virginia.  She was smart, tough, fair and by the book.  After I had been in the position for a couple of years, she told me that it was time for me to go to graduate school.  She assured me that I would likely receive a scholarship from the State, which I did.  Two years later when I received my Master’s Degree, she hired me as a Trainer for Eligibility Workers.  That’s quite important because being a trainer has been my “fallback position” throughout my career.   I have called to thank her a few times through the years and in one call, she said, “I always felt that we had a special connection.”  So did I!

A co-worker said that he is most thankful for the sayings shared by his manager when he worked in the retail industry.  He has repeated the sayings in his own business many times through the years.

Saying: “Every one of our employees is somebody’s daughter.”
Message: Treat every one of our employees with respect. Make sure you are comfortable with what she will tell her parents about work at the dinner table.

Saying: “Thanks for telling me. No surprises!”
Message: Always keep me informed.

Saying: “Don’t be afraid of sleeping on it.”
Message: Don’t always make decisions in haste.

Thanks to all of the wonderful mentors who have helped us through the years!

Julia Aguilar



Skills Gap

A recent survey from the American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, conducted online by Harris Poll, indicated that fifty percent of Americans have not heard of the “skills gap”.  However, once the term was defined, twenty-eight percent of the respondents stated they knew someone who had been affected by the skills gap.  Fourteen percent said they had personally been affected.

The ASA president stated that “The gap between workers’ skills and those needed by employers is a key reason millions of individuals are unemployed despite millions of open jobs.”

Three out of four Americans surveyed stated that technology outpacing workers’ knowledge is a factor at least moderately responsible for causing the skills gap.

The workplace environment has changed rapidly and survey participants stated:

  • Few job openings exist for the skills they possess (44%)
  • They don’t have the right skills for a desired job (34%)
  • They had to get additional training to keep or get a job (25%)

What can employers do?

  • Provide training and tutoring opportunities to improve or learn needed skills for both current employees and new hires.
  • Examine job descriptions to see if all skill requirements are truly required…or would some just be a nice added skill. Adjust requirements accordingly.
  • Hire candidates with potential even if experience and skills are lacking. Provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, new trades or new technologies.

What can prospective and/or current employees do?

  • Embrace opportunities to grow new skills, to improve current skills and to stay current with new technologies.
  • Emphasize during job interviews or performance reviews your interests and potential to learn the needed skills. Sometimes, hobbies and general interest have provided you with a basis from which to grow into a new profession!
  • Remember that soft skills are important; emphasize your soft skills and how they have prepared you for a new career or new skill opportunity.

Accept the fact that it may be time for an industry or career change.  Prepare through appropriate training, schooling or internships.  Be willing to accept a lower starting point in order to learn a new industry or a new job!

Julie Aguilar

Fragrance Free Workplace

Many workplaces, including ours, have Fragrance Free policies. The primary reason for fragrance-free policies is to prevent discomfort or other reactions to employees who may be sensitive to strong odors, whether the odors are pleasant or unpleasant. Perfumes and shaving lotions bring on sneezes and headaches to those who are sensitive. Body odor is offensive to everyone!

When going on job interviews, it is a best practice for both men and women to refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, lotions and other fragrances. You likely would not be aware of a company’s policy on fragrances in the workplace or whether or not the people who interview you are sensitive to fragrances. No one will be offended by you not wearing a fragrance; some won’t like it if you do and others may actually get sick from the smell. A recent article in “The Good Life” provided explanations on the physical impact of smells. A strong floral scent on an elevator or in an office can bring on a pounding headache for those who are sensitive to odors. This is brought on when the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for bringing sensations from the nose to the brain, is sensitive to a certain odor. It will actually constrict blood vessels in the brain bringing on that dreaded pounding headache.

Bad smells, including body odors brought on by not bathing or not wearing deodorant can make people cranky, stressed or depressed. This is particularly true in small quarters such as a bus, an elevator or an office. The article said this is like any other “annoying sensory stimulus” such as loud noises or extra bright lights as you have no control over the odor.

We recommend Fragrance-Free Policies for all workplaces. We definitely recommend not wearing fragrance when going on job interviews. Both fall under the “Better safe than sorry” category!

Julia Aguilar

More Employees Considering Changing Jobs

Our current almost full-employment job market is bringing on an additional challenge for employers. A recent survey from Robert Half, a global staffing firm, indicated that four in ten workers stated they were likely to look for a new job within the next year. For those in the survey aged eighteen to thirty-four, the number who stated they were likely to seek new employment in the next twelve months was sixty-eight percent.

An increase in turnover is to be expected in today’s employment climate of numerous available employment opportunities at all levels. However, high turnover, can certainly be a challenge for companies of any size.

Employees choose to seek a new position for various reasons. The survey found that workers give inadequate salary and benefits as the top reason to quit. Other reasons included: limited opportunities for career growth or advancement, unhappiness with management, boredom with the job, overworked and lack of recognition.

To increase retention, employers may want to consider:

  • Take time to know your employees. Talk to your staff about their jobs and their career goals. Talk to employees about longer term opportunities within your company and within your industry.
  • Increase compensation. Review your compensation structure to make sure it meets current market ranges. Wages have increased significantly within the past two or three years and, if possible, compensation plans need to be adjusted to the current market levels.
  • Performance bonuses are a viable, less risky way to increase compensation opportunities. Bonuses may be used for special projects, annual performance or any extraordinary success.
  • Freedom to make decisions, to work remotely at times, to work a flexible schedule, to increase time off whether by additional PTO (Paid Time Off), additional paid holidays or shorter work days are all possibilities sought by employees.
  • Be sure your employees know they are valued by celebrating successes, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
  • Implement ideas for change suggested by your employees. Consider a bonus payment for ideas that save the company money or meet other company goals.

Solutions will differ by companies. If implemented, the above suggestions may pay dividends for employees and employers by reducing turnover and the high cost of replacing good employees.

Julia Aguilar

Employees’ Market

San Luis Obispo’s unemployment rate of 3.3% for April 2017 was the lowest since May 2001.  This rate makes SLO very close to full employment.  In our staffing business, we have observed a significant shortage of qualified job seekers for more than a year.  Job boards that brought in multiple candidates in the past now attract only a trickle.  In past years, June brought a major increase in applicants as Cal Poly graduates chose to remain in San Luis Obispo.  Fewer college grads now remain in our area as higher paying positions with greater career opportunities are offered in the Bay Area, Southern California and the Central Valley.

What are the answers?  There is no “one size fits all”.  However, there are some steps to consider:

  1. Hire those who are “under qualified” and/or “lacking job experience”.  Invest in training to improve or teach required skills, accept that more time than in the past may be needed to train some new employees; make sure those providing the training are aware and accepting of that fact.
  2. Be patient with those recruiting for you – whether in-house employees or a staffing company. It is a very difficult time to recruit qualified applicants in this job market.  Reduce expectations for seeing a high number of qualified candidates, particularly for entry level jobs.
  3. Make decisions quickly. With so many job openings and so few viable candidates, companies who make quick decisions, including on-the-spot offers, are the ones most likely to quickly fill their open jobs.

In an earlier blog, I shared the story of two under qualified employees who have both now been with their same employer for more than 20 years.   It is definitely a time to consider “taking a chance” on someone who may not be the ideal candidate.  You may also find that “under qualified” 20 year employee!

Julia Aguilar

Mother’s Handshake Lesson

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am again reminded of how far ahead of the times my mother was when she taught me how to properly shake hands so many years ago.  Through the years, I have met females of all ages who are unsure how to shake hands.  Some don’t offer a hand, some have a half handshake, some have a weak handshake.  The ones who stand out are the ones who have a strong, firm handshake!  For me, it can make the difference in whether or not I hire someone for our staff.

I have demonstrated handshakes to many women through the years.  This has included aspiring politicians, job seekers, employees, relatives and daughters of friends.

I recently met the college-aged daughter of my son’s landlord.  I immediately said, “Great handshake!”  The smile on her face and her mother’s face told the story:  Her mother had indeed taught her how to shake hands.  Of course, I shared the story with them of my mother teaching me to shake hands before I left for college so many years ago.

As Mother’s Day approaches, take time to shake hands with your daughters and their friends.  Take time to teach them the important skill of a firm handshake.  It will pay dividends both personally and professionally for many years.  It will also give your daughters a story to tell about their mother, particularly on Mother’s Day!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Julia Aguilar


Phubbing — Mobile Device Etiquette

Though unfamiliar with the term “phubbing” until a recent column in The Tribune by Linda Lewis Griffith, I am certainly both familiar with and guilty of the action. According to Dictionary.com, “phubbing  is the act of ignoring a person or one’s surroundings when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device. “  Dictionary.com dates the origin of “phub” as between 2010 and 2014.

Observe families while dining in restaurants. It is not unusual to see each person looking at their phone with minimal attention to those they are dining with.   While enforcing my new “no unnecessary phubbing” rule at dinner last night, I noticed a mother and two teenaged daughters at the next table.  Both daughters were on the phone while the mother sat silently waiting for dinner to be served.

I have also noticed “phubbing” in various meetings and seminars. This can be rude to the speaker as well as those seated near you.  People do notice that you are texting or scrolling through emails.  Some of us are better at multi-tasking than others, but it will be deemed by many that you consider the current setting or speaker unimportant.

Our Staffing Managers have commented that job applicants sometimes glance at their phones during job interviews.   Others have apologized as they silenced their ringing phone during the job interview.   It is definitely not a Best Practice to have your phone visible or to have to silence your phone while responding to an interview question.  I’d recommend that you leave it in your car or in your purse or in your pocket and, by all means, set it on silent!

Many employees now keep their personal phones on their desk or close by. This may be necessary for some jobs, but for most it is either a convenience or a bad habit which studies show is significantly reducing productivity.  Verify your company’s policy with your supervisor.  The Best Practice for most jobs, particularly office positions, is to silence your phone and place it in a desk drawer or in your purse.

There are occasional times when it is appropriate to “watch” your mobile device. If you are waiting for serious news from or about a family member or news from work that you have to handle, it’s okay to “watch” your phone.  It’s best to advise those with you of the reason you are “phubbing”.

Julia Aguilar