Allegations of workplace discrimination based on disability rose to the highest level ever last year.

There were 21,451 complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2009 charging job bias based on disability. That’s an increase of about 10 percent over the previous year.

Of those, the allegations in 4,244 cases were found to be legitimate.

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The EEOC tracks workplace discrimination complaints in a variety of categories including race, sex, age, disability, religion and national origin.

Overall job bias complaints reached their second highest level ever in 2009 at 93,277. The reason is unclear but may be due to the economy, changes in the workforce or better awareness, EEOC officials said.

“Equal employment opportunity remains elusive for far too many workers and the commission will continue to fight for their rights,” said acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.