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U.S. companies have a better than one in 10 chance of having employment charges filed against them by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or an equivalent state agency, although the chances vary dramatically depending on the state.
New Mexico companies, for instance, were 66% more likely to receive a charge than the overall 11.7% national average, according to the study New York-based insurer Hiscox USA released Tuesday based on fiscal 2014 charge activity reported by the EEOC and state counterparts.
Other jurisdictions whose companies have a high likelihood of facing employment charges include the District of Columbia, with a 65% greater chance than the national average; Nevada, 47%; Alabama, 41%; and California, 40%.
The reason charge activity varies so much is “many of the higher risk states in the survey have state laws that go beyond U.S. federal guidelines, creating additional obligations and risks for employers,” according to the study.
“It is important for companies, especially those operating in these high-risk markets, to be keenly attuned to any legal developments that may affect their exposures,” according to the study.
The study said state anti-discrimination and fair employment practices, e-verify, pregnancy accommodation, credit check and criminal background check laws help drive employee claims.
“Have written procedures that outline federal and state requirements for applications, background checks and permissible interview questions,” Hiscox recommends. “If you do business in more than one state, adhere to the most stringent regulations and develop a job application that can be used across the geographies where your company operates.”
Employers with religious objections to same-sex marriage face difficult decisions on whether to extend spousal benefits to married gay and lesbian couples.