The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) recently released the statistics of its operations during the 2015 Fiscal Year.
The Commission’s 2015 FY ran from October 1, 2014 to November 30, 2015.
The data, which was released on Feb 11, 2016, reveals the EEOC’s enforcement priorities and litigation focus during 2015 FY.
It also offers glimpses into the possible direction the agency will take in the coming few years.
On the whole, the EEOC received 89,398 workplace discrimination charges during the Fiscal Year 2015.
These charges were brought against not just private employers, but also state, local and federal governments.
The charges alleged different forms of discrimination including race, sex, disability, age, national origin, and others.
A break-down of the different forms of discrimination is given below. However, not all charges arose from discrimination.
More than 28,000 (31 percent of all charges) alleged workplace harassment.
Break-Down of Charges
According to EEOC stats, the most common form of discrimination alleged during FY 2015 was retaliation.
A total of 39,757 retaliation charges were brought against employers. This accounted for almost 45 percent of all charges brought during the Fiscal Year.
The second and third most-common forms of discrimination were race and disability respectively.
There were 31,027 race discrimination charges filed. This accounted for 34.7 percent of total charges. The disability discrimination charges brought were 26,968 (30.2 percent of all charges).
The other categories of discrimination handled by the EEOC (together with their totals and percentages) during the 2015 FY are listed below:
- Race: 31,027 (34.7 percent)
- Disability: 26,968 (30.2 percent)
- Sex: 26,396 (29.5 percent)
- Age: 20,144 (22.5 percent)
- National Origin: 9,438 (10.6 percent)
- Religion: 3,502 (3.9 percent)
- Color: 2,833 (3.2 percent)
- Equal Pay Act: 973 (1.1 percent)
- Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 257 (0.3 percent)
The percentages add up to more than 100 because there were instances where more than one charge was brought against an employer.
For instance, On September 23, 2016, the EEOC sued Landis Homes Retirement Community for pregnancy discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation.
Charges on the Rise
The FY 2015 saw an increase in certain kinds of charges when compared to the previous year.
Disability charges had the greatest increase from the 2014 FY. They increased by six percent. Retaliation charges also increased by five percent from the 2014 FY.
The combination of a significant increase and sheer proportion has made retaliation the number one focus of the EEOC in the 2016 FY.
The Commission recently released a Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation, in order to help employers tackle the issue.
Related Article: Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay
In total, the EEOC resolved 92,641 charges during the 2015 FY. This number exceeds the number of charges filed because some were carry-overs from the 2014 FY.
In fact, a significant portion of the charges filed in the 2015 FY were carried over into the 2016 FY.
The agency secured more than $525 million for victims who had suffered from discrimination and harassment.
This money was secured from all categories of employers including private as well as local, state and federal governments.
The greatest proportion of the money was secured through the EEOC’s administrative processes.
This basically involved mediation, reconciliation and settlements. In total, $365.6 million was secured administratively from private, as well as local and state government employers.
Similarly, $105.7 million was secured from the federal government.
Comparatively, only $65.3 million was secured through the litigation process. This basically indicates the EEOC’s increasing focus on resolving issues administratively rather than going to court.
According to the agency’s statistics, more than 15,000 charges were resolved through its mediation and conciliation efforts.
However, the focus on mediation doesn’t mean that the EEOC abandoned its favorite tool, litigation.
The FY 2015 saw the agency filing 142 lawsuits. This is a slight increase from the 133 filed in the 2014 FY.
The lawsuits filed included 100 individual lawsuits. They also included 42 lawsuits in which multiple violations were alleged.
At least 16 of the lawsuits alleged cases of systemic discrimination.
The majority of the EEOC lawsuits in 2015 were for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A significant portion of the lawsuits were brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In total, 155 lawsuits were resolved during the 2015 FY. The most significant ones were the lawsuits against BMW, Abercrombie and New Breed Logistics.
Even then, by the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC still had 218 active cases in its docket.
In a nutshell, those are the major highlights from the EEOC’s enforcement and litigation statistics for the 2015 FY.
More details about these statistics can be found on the EEOC webpage.
What Does This Mean For Your Company?
In 2015, retaliation was the most common charge filed with the EEOC.
On January 21, they issued a draft guidance entitled for public comment, “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues.”
In the draft, the EEOC offers some examples of best practices for employers to follow:
- Establish written anti-retaliation policies.
- Provide training to all employees.
- Improve practices and responses to retaliation complaints.
- Review proposed adverse employment actions before implementing such decisions.
Related Article: Does Your Business Need a Code of Ethics or Conduct?
A review of your company’s current policies as well as reiteration of these policies to appropriate managers would be a prudent step to take at this time.