The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently announced a 15% spike in workplace discrimination filings during Fiscal Year 2008. This surge brought the total number of workplace discrimination filings to an historic high of 95,402. The Commission also disclosed that it recovered approximately $376 million through its enforcement, mediation, and litigation programs.

For a number of reasons, this barrage of workplace discrimination filings is likely to continue in Fiscal Year 2009. First, such filings tend to increase during economic downturns as more people lose their jobs. Second, the Commission is expected to be more active under the new administration, in part because the Commission’s budget may increase by as much as $15 million under some proposals.

Employers should heed of these warning signs, and should take this opportunity to ensure that their workplace discrimination policies are up to date and that their employees have recently received anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training. Such proactive measures, including assistance by trained employment law counsel, can help to head off damaging exposure in a tough climate for employers.