At the end of January, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published its enforcement and litigation data for the 2017 fiscal year that ended September 30, 2017. The statistics reflect that nationally, 84,254 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the EEOC for this reporting period. This number is approximately 7,200 fewer than the number of charges filed in FY16, and is the lowest number of charges filed since FY2007, a decade ago, when 82,792 charges were filed with the EEOC.
One of the most glaring aspects of the nationwide charge statistics is the frequency with which retaliation claims are asserted as part of an EEOC charge. Specifically, in FY17, the EEOC reports that almost one-half of all charges filed contained a retaliation claim. In FY17, 41,097 retaliation charges were asserted, constituting 48.8% of all charges filed. This figure is consistent with prior years as well. Charges based on race (33.9% of all charges filed) and disability (31.9% of all charges filed) were the next two most commonly filed types of charges. The least frequent type of charge was based on genetic information discrimination. Throughout the United States, only 206 such charges were filed, representing just .2% of all charges.
One focus of the EEOC’s work includes monetary recoveries for employees. The EEOC’s press release touts its recovery of $398 million for employees, secured through both litigation and voluntary resolutions. The EEOC’s litigation activity in FY17 showed a notable increase over the year before in the number of merit suits filed, with 86 suits filed in FY16 and 184 filed in FY17.
The EEOC’s annual statistics help to identify trends in the workplace as well as the current emphasis of the EEOC’s efforts across the country. In addition, the data provides the practical benefit of giving employers insight into potential risks and exposure among their workforces, which, in turn, can help employers better focus their internal training and personnel management efforts, as well as help employers determine how to allocate resources in support of these efforts.
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