Employment Discrimination Litigation
Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen, Ryon Lancaster, John Donohue III, Peter Siegelman
At the center of current debates about the role of anti-discrimination law in American society is the system of discrimination litigation. Despite the sheer magnitude of changes in employment discrimination law and litigation in the last 15 years, including significant changes in decisional and statutory law and dramatic growth in the number of federal discrimination lawsuits, there is a lack of systematic empirical research on the changing dynamics of employment discrimination disputes.
The research answers such fundamental questions as: what proportion of federal civil rights employment claims are based on race, gender, disability, age, national origin, or other grounds? Are some types of claims more likely to succeed than others? Are workers in certain industries, occupations, geographic locations, and federal circuits more or less likely to file employment discrimination claims with the EEOC and in federal court -- and with what outcomes? Who are the lawyers representing the parties on both sides of discrimination claims, and how do they shape the initiation, handling, and resolution of claims? Are plaintiffs and defendants satisfied with the procedures and outcomes of the discrimination claiming system?
This project combines: 1) a quantitative analysis of confidential data obtained from the EEOC on complaints filed with the agency from 1990 to 2002, which will allow analyses of which EEOC complaints lead to the filing of a federal lawsuit; 2) a quantitative analysis of a large random sample of discrimination filings in federal courts from 1988 to 2003, which replicates important research by Donohue and Siegelman on filings from 1972-1987; and 3) qualitative analyses of a subset of federal case filings that includes about 100 in-depth interviews with parties and lawyers and analyses of case file documents.