In the 2012-13 fiscal year, the number of people who contacted the Kentucky Human Rights Commission with possible discrimination incidents increased 30 percent compared to the same period a year before, according to an annual report.
The spike—3,020 to 2,231 in 2011-12—is attributed to the persistence of discrimination in Kentucky and also a marketing campaign that increased awareness of the commission's process, said Victoria Stephens, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
“When reading the headlines on any given morning one can see that problems of discrimination based on any given number of protected classes, those are problems that come across the horizon every day," Stephens said.
Still, the number of initial contacts that proceeded into the complaint process—361—is consistent with recent years, she said. After the initial contact, commission staff consider whether the situation meets the requirements of state law or federal law and is within the agency's jurisdiction.
In a statement, commission executive director John J. Johnson said it's difficult to judge whether the increase in complaints is related to in increase in discrimination or greater awareness that the commission is a possible means of helps.
“Clearly, discrimination occurs within Kentucky and the enforcement of civil rights by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is required for the safety and well-being of all Kentuckians,” he said in his statement.
The commission's annual report looks at the fiscal year from July 2012 to June 2013. You can read it here. Most of the claims were based on race discrimination. In last year's report for the 2011-12 fiscal year, gender discrimination claims led for the first time, Stephens said.
Most of the claims stemmed from employment issues, she added.
The marketing campaign last year was funded through a $200,000 federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Stephens said. It was aimed mostly at the area of housing discrimination.