EEOC releases FY 2013 enforcement and litigation data

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released FY 2013 data showing that the agency obtained the highest monetary recovery in its history through its administrative process, increasing by $6.7 million to $372.1 million. Of these awards, $39 million benefited victims of unlawful discrimination.

In all, the agency received 93,727 charges of workplace discrimination from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. This number is down 5.7% from FY 2012, when 99,412 charges were received.

The five states with the highest number of charges were Texas (9068), Florida (7597), California (6892), Illinois (4781), and Georgia (5162).

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Of particular note, retaliation charges were up in both numbers (38,539 versus 37,836) and as a percentage of all charges (41.1% versus 38.1%) from the previous fiscal year. Texas (9.9%), California (8.4%), and Florida (8.0%) had the highest percentages of retaliation charges.

A new table, called Bases by Issue, shows that in FY 2013, claims of retaliation were most likely to revolve around:

  • Discharge (49,633)
  • Constructive discharge (5297)
  • Harassment (28,770)
  • General terms and conditions of employment (28,296)
  • Discipline (16,647)
  • Unfavorable assignment changes (5247)

Employers would do well to remember that the original charge of discrimination does not have to be found valid for a retaliation charge to stick.

According to the EEOC Strategic Enforcement Plan for FY 2013-2016, the agency has adopted the following priorities:

  • Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.
  • Protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers.
  • Addressing emerging and developing issues. “The EEOC will target emerging issues in equal employment law, including issues associated with significant events, demographic changes, developing theories, new legislation, judicial decisions and administrative interpretations.”
  • Enforcing equal pay laws.
  • Preserving access to the legal system. “The EEOC will target policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts.”
  • Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach.

Established in 1965, the EEOC is the “nation’s lead governmental enforcer of employment anti-discrimination laws and chief promoter of equal employment opportunity.”

Not without detractors, the EEOC has been heavily criticized for filing one too many “groundless” claims, and this past summer the agency was ordered to pay $4.694 million in attorneys’ fees, expenses, and costs in the case of EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc.

(The EEOC’s suit against CRST Van Expedited claimed the trucking company had discriminated against several of its female employees by allowing them to be sexually harassed by their male managers and co-drivers.)

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