As the year winds down, it’s a good time to reflect on the experiences of 2016 as we prepare for the risk management needs of 2017. For employers, that means gleaning from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) year-end fiscal performance report. The November 15th report noted that the EEOC secured more than $482.1 million for victims of discrimination in private, state and local government, and federal workplaces during fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30. This amount included $347.9 million for victims of employment discrimination in private sector and state and local government workplaces through mediation, conciliation, and settlements; $52.2 million for workers harmed by discriminatory practices through agency litigation; and $82 million for federal employees and applicants.
The EEOC promoted the following as significant actions it took in 2016:
Increasing the number of charges staff resolved to 97,443 charges, which is 6.5 percent more than the charges the EEOC received. This resulted in a reduction of charge workload by 3.8 percent to 73,508, a 2,900 charge reduction compared with fiscal year 2015. The EEOC also handled over 585,000 calls to its toll-free number and more than 160,000 pre-charge inquiries in field offices.
Helping workers obtain relief by resolving over 15,800 charges of discrimination through the agency's administrative processes-settlements, mediations, and conciliations.
Systemic cases addressed patterns or practices of discrimination or policies that have a broad impact on a region, industry, or a group of employees or job applicants. In fiscal year 2016, the EEOC resolved 273 systemic investigations before filing litigation, obtaining more than $20.3 million in remedies. In litigation, the EEOC resolved 21 systemic cases, six of which included at least 50 victims of discrimination and two of which included over 1,000 victims of discrimination.
The above actions reflect that the EEOC is resolving cases at a quicker pace than opening them in 2016. Ideally, investigators will have more time to devote to pending investigations as a result. The EEOC is also continuing to concentrate in the area of systemic discrimination due to its broader impact. The EEOC targeted an active docket of 22-24% systemic cases for 2016. It reported exceeding that target with 28.5% of the active docket being systemic cases.
In fiscal year 2016, the EEOC's legal staff resolved 139 merit lawsuits in the federal district courts for a total monetary recovery of $52.2 million. The EEOC filed 86 lawsuits alleging discrimination during fiscal year 2016 and achieved a favorable resolution in approximately 90.6 percent of all district court resolutions. The filings include 55 individual suits and 13 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies, and 18 systemic suits.
Enforcement and litigation statistics were not available presently but the report is and can be accessed at this link. While lengthy, the EEOC provides a review of its 2016 district court and administrative litigation and therefore is a resource of activity pro and con.
Employers should review the EEOC’s fiscal year report to educate themselves on the past in order to prepare for the future. A review of the EEOC’s enforcement and litigation statistics would be helpful as well.