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On January 25, 2018 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its fiscal year 2017 enforcement and litigation statistics. The EEOC’s fiscal year ended on September 30, 2017.

The EEOC announced that 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed in 2017. The EEOC also reported that it secured $398 million through litigation and settlement. The charge workload was reduced to the lowest level of inventory in 10 years. The EEOC explained this reduction in inventory to its deployment of new strategies to more efficiently prioritize charges with merit, more quickly resolved investigations, and improvement in the agency’s digital systems. Despite this reduction in inventory, the EEOC nonetheless handled over 540,000 calls to its toll-free number and more than 155,000 inquiries in field offices.

Retaliation claims remained the most frequently filed charge, followed by race and disability. Sexual harassment charges remained high with 6,696 sexual harassment charges. The EEOC recovered $46.3 million in monetary benefits. Below are the charge numbers and percentages from the 10 most frequent claims (the percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple protected classes):

• Retaliation: 41,097 (48.8 percent of all charges filed)
• Race: 28,528 (33.9 percent)
• Disability: 26,838 (31.9 percent)
• Sex: 25,605 (30.4 percent)
• Age: 18,376 (21.8 percent)
• National Origin: 8,299 (9.8 percent)
• Religion: 3,436 (4.1 percent)
• Color: 3,240 (3.8 percent)
• Equal Pay Act: 996 (1.2 percent)
• Genetic Information: 206 (.2 percent)

The EEOC filed 184 merits lawsuits alleging discrimination in fiscal year 2017. These lawsuits included 124 individual suits and 30 suits involving multiple victims or discriminatory policies, as well as 30 systemic discrimination cases. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 242 cases on its active docket. The EEOC announced a successful outcome in 90.8 percent of all suit resolutions.

Retaliation claims remain at the forefront of all claims, but anticipate growth in sexual harassment claims. Retaliation claims regularly appear now in most discrimination charges because a plaintiff can succeed on a retaliation claim even though they fail on the underlying discrimination claim. One would expect an uptick in sexual harassment claims in light of the news reports from various industries in American business. Additionally, Genetic Information Act claims appear to be rising.

Employers must continue to develop pro active anti-harassment and discrimination policies, train their employees on these policies, investigate claims thoroughly using outside counsel where necessary, and enforce these policies where the investigation suggests enforcement is necessary.

View the press release.

Related Items of Interest: 

Interacting with the EEOC During Administrative Investigations

Drafting Effective EEOC Position Statements