The number of federal job discrimination complaints filed in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota rose by four percent last year.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Minneapolis office, which serves the three-state area, received 1,203 complaints of job discrimination in the 2011 fiscal year, up from 1,157 the previous year.
"It shows that discrimination in the workplace still exists and is something that we need to stay on top of and spend our resources trying to eradicate," said Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC's Minneapolis office.
The data, released by the EEOC on Wednesday, also showed an increase in the number of complaints from workers who say they were discriminated against because of their national origin — from 146 in 2010 to 239 last year. Overall, nearly 20 percent of all complaints filed last year alleged discrimination based on national origin.
Schmid said the office is handling a record number of complaints while also coping with staff shortages caused by an agency-wide hiring freeze. The Minneapolis office, which has jurisdiction of all cases in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, started the year with 9 investigators and 4 administrative staff members.
It ended the year with 7 investigators and 1 administrative staffer.
"Critical positions are not being replaced," Schmid said. "So that makes it very difficult."
Nationwide, the EEOC received nearly 100,000 charges of employment discrimination last year.