By Carrie S. Bryant
On February 11, 2016, the EEOC released its charge and litigation statistics for fiscal year 2015, which ran from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015. The EEOC received 89,385 employment discrimination charges nationwide. Charge filings remained relatively constant overall, with just 607 more filings compared to 2014. Of the 89,385 charges filed, 63,900 included a Title VII claim.
Disability discrimination, race discrimination, and retaliation were the most alleged claims, representing 30.2%, 34.7%, and 44.5% of charges, respectively. Retaliation claims not only represented the largest proportion of claims filed, but those claims were up from 2014. Other discrimination claims also modestly increased. For example, harassment claims went from 26,820 to 27,893 filed charges. Color discrimination, which is discrimination that occurs on the basis of a person’s skin color or shade, is a much less frequently alleged form of discrimination. Nonetheless, while constituting a small percentage of overall discrimination charges at less than 5%, color-based claims increased slightly from 2,756 charges to 2,833.
In addition, the EEOC intensified its litigation efforts in 2015. The EEOC filed 174 lawsuits, which was a minor increase compared to the year before, when only 167 suits were filed. Title VII and ADA violations were the two most frequently alleged claims in EEOC suits.
The agency remained willing to resolve pending matters, even in cases where the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred. Of all charges filed and resolved, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred in 3239 cases, and conciliated 1432 of those matters. The EEOC resolved 171 lawsuits in 2015. According to EEOC Chair Jenny Yang, the agency achieved the highest mediation and conciliation success rates in the agency’s history.
The EEOC’s charge and litigation statistics reaffirm that employers should remain aware of all forms of discrimination originating in the workplace, including retaliation. The increasing number of retaliation claims serves as a reminder to employers that such claims continue to be a significant concern for employees and the EEOC. Pursuant to the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for fiscal years 2013 – 2016, one of the EEOC’s national priorities is to target employment practices that discourage individuals from exercising rights under employment discrimination statutes, which includes addressing retaliatory actions. In fact, in January 2016, the EEOC released proposed enforcement guidance on retaliation for public comment, in an effort to revise its existing guidance. So, retaliation will continue to be a focus of the EEOC, and should prompt employers to reinforce their anti-retaliation training and policies.
This article was written by Carrie S. Bryant who is a member of Detroit SHRM’s Legal Affairs Committee and an attorney of the law firm of Dykema Gossett PLLC, located in its Bloomfield Hills, MI office. She can be reached at (248) 203-0728 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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