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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Charge Statistics for 2011 reflect the number of individual charge filings.  Because individuals often file charges claiming multiple types of discrimination, the number of total charges for any given fiscal year will be fewer than the total of the 10 types of discriminations listed by the EEOC.  Despite this limitation, the number of total charges filed in 2011 broke the prior record of total charges established in 2010.

In 2011, there were 99,947 total charges filed, up from 99,932 in 2010 or 0.25%.  Retaliation-all statutes reflected the highest percentage of total charges filed at 37.4%, with race second at 35.4%, sex third at 28.5% and disability fourth at 25.8%.  Race and sex total charges reflected a small percentage drop-off from 2010 while retaliation—all statutes and age—rose slightly from 2010.  There were 37,334 total charges for retaliation­-all statutes, 35,395 total race charges, 28,534 total sex charges, and 25,742 total charges for disability.  Retaliation-Title VII amounted for 31.4% of all total charges in 2011 with 31,429 charges.  The economy likely played a role in the record number of charges filed in 2010 and 2011, but the EEOC’s Charge Statistics also suggest that employers’ implementation of anti-discrimination policies and risk management best practices have not appeared to stem the tide of charge filing.

The EEOC’s 2011 Litigation Statistics are also telling.  Three hundred total suits were filed in 2011, up 10.7% from 2010.  Of note, 80 suits with Americans with Disability Act claims were filed in 2011 up 95.1% from 2010. The number of suits filed with ADA claims however is not the most troubling statistic in the EEOC’s 2011 Litigation Statistics.  In 2010, 60 suits with ADA claims were resolved for a total of $2.9 million in benefits.  In 2011, 42 suits with ADA claims were resolved for a total of $27.1 million in monetary benefits, a striking and troubling increase.  The monetary benefits for 2011 resolved ADA claims is even more striking when compared to suits with Title VII claims.  There were 215 suits with Title VII claims resolved in 2011 with $54.3 million in monetary benefits. Clearly, ADA claims have become the most expensive claims to resolve with respect to monetary benefits.  Of course, monetary benefits do not tell the whole story.  ADA claims often include equitable and injunctive relief especially if the EEOC is a party to the litigation.

The EEOC’s 2011 Charge and Litigation Statistics clearly reflect that employers must continue to implement, train, instruct on and enforce their anti-discrimination policies as well as continuing to implement risk management best practices in order to not only reduce the number of discrimination charges filed against them, but also to reduce the exposure associated with those charges.  This is especially true when the above statistics reflect only federal charges and litigation and don’t include charges and litigation resolutions of state and local agencies such as the Illinois and Chicago Human Rights Commissions.

Johnson & Bell, Ltd. has a white paper on interacting with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during administrative investigations.  Email Joseph Spitzzeri at if you’re interested in receiving a digital copy.