On Thursday, November 9, 2017, the EEOC announced that it had dramatically reduced its charge inventory in fiscal year 2017. The EEOC attributed this reduction in inventory to: (1) EEOC offices deploying new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit and more quickly resolving investigations once the agency had sufficient information; and, (2) improvements in the agency’s digital systems. As a result, The EEOC reported that in fiscal year 2017 it resolved 99,109 charges and reduced the charge workload by 16.2 percent to 61,621, the lowest level of inventory in 10 years. The EEOC further noted that during the fiscal year, it handled over 540,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 155,000 contacts about possible charge filing in field offices, resulting in 84,254 charges being filed.
Acting EEOC Chair Victoria A. Lipnic stated: “The pending inventory of private sector charges (the backlog) has been a longstanding issue for the EEOC and the public it serves. Early in the calendar year, we made addressing the backlog a priority. A primary point of this effort was to share strategies among our offices that have been particularly effective in dealing with the pending inventory, while ensuring we are capturing charges with merit. I thank EEOC’s employees for their work and congratulate them on this progress.”
The EEOC noted the following as fiscal year 2017 highlights:
The EEOC secured approximately $484 million for victims of discrimination in the workplace. This includes $355.6 million in monetary relief for those who work in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement, and $42.4 million in monetary relief for charging parties through litigation.
The EEOC also secured $86 million in monetary relief for federal employees and applicants. Importantly, in each of these categories, the agency obtained changes to discriminatory practices to remedy violations of equal employment opportunity laws and prevent future discriminatory conduct.
The EEOC also announced that it filed 184 merits lawsuits, including 124 suits on behalf of individuals, 30 non-systemic suits with multiple victims and 30 systemic suits. This is more than double the number of suits filed in fiscal year 2016. Additionally, EEOC’s legal staff resolved 109 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recovery of $42.4 million and achieved a favorable result in 90.8 percent of all district court resolutions.
The EEOC noted that its outreach programs reached 317,000 people during the year through participation in more than 4,000 no-cost educational, training and outreach events. The EEOC noted that it revamped its Youth@Work website to provide updated resources for America’s next generation of workers. The EEOC also launched the online Small Business Resource Center to provide a one-stop shop to help small businesses access information about employer responsibilities to prevent or eliminate discrimination on the job.
The EEOC made advancements on the technology front as well. For the public, the EEOC advanced its online services by way of a pilot program, which allowed individuals in five EEOC offices to submit inquiries online, schedule interviews, and submit and receive charge information. This pilot led to the nationwide launch of the EEOC Public Portal in November 2017.
The EEOC’s fiscal year 2017 efforts will be detailed in the EEOC's fiscal year 2017 Performance and Accountability Report that will be posted on the agency's website on November 15, 2017. The EEOC announced that its comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for fiscal year 2017 will be available on the agency's website in January 2018.
The EEOC continues to advance its technological abilities to stay current in today’s society and to enhance its charge processing abilities. Employers need to continue to monitor their EEO policies and practices to stay current with the law, the EEOC’s priorities and to maintain a solid risk management portfolio.