Most complaints were related to race or gender discrimination.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal job discrimination complaints filed by workers against private employers jumped more than 4 percent in 2002 to the highest level in seven years.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday that complaints increased to 84,442 during the 2002 budget year, up from 80,840 the previous year.
Complaints in 2002 reached the highest level since 1995, when 87,529 were filed.
The poor economy, an aging and multinational work force and backlash from the 2001 terrorist attacks likely contributed to the increase, said EEOC Chairwoman Cari M. Dominguez. She noted the large increases in allegations of religious, age and national origin discrimination.
Religious complaints increased 21 percent, age complaints were up 14.5 percent and national origin complaints rise 13 percent.
Allegations of race and gender discrimination accounted for a majority of the complaints, at 35 percent and 30 percent respectively.
More in certain industries
The industries generating the most complaints were retail, food services and manufacturing.
The commission resolved 95,222 cases last year, a 5-percent increase from 2001. A record $310.5 million in monetary benefits for complainants was recovered.
The average time to process a complaint declined 6 percent to 171 days. The backlog of complaints awaiting investigation dropped 10 percent to 29,041, the lowest level in 31 years.
But as complaints reach record levels at EEOC, President Bush has proposed to cut new spending on enforcement by 3 percent in 2004 to $245 million. That's down from $253 million he proposed in 2003.
New spending on outreach and education would increase 60 percent to $60 million in 2004, up from the $37 million proposed in 2003. Overall, Bush proposed new budget authority spending for EEOC at $335 million, a 4-percent increase.