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By Susan Tribby, associate vice president of risk management, AlphaStaff

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently reported receiving 93,277 workplace discrimination charges in the 2009 fiscal year, marking the second highest level ever. Race, retaliation and sex-based discrimination made up the majority of the charges, with complainants receiving more than $376 million.

Although the economy seems to be slowly improving in 2010, many businesses will be forced to lay off workers and delay promotions. Historically, as the number of employee layoffs increase, the potential for litigation also rises. This happens for several reasons. Often employees who are laid off during a recession would not necessarily be laid off in a better economy and believe they have grounds to sue for unfair termination. Or employees who have been let go and need funds to stay afloat think a lawsuit may generate some income. Additionally, if a group of employees who are laid off all share a common trait (for example, all are older than 50, or all are women), this can lead the employees to think they have grounds for a class-action lawsuit.

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