EEOC Releases Enforcement and Litigation Data for Fiscal Year 2016

by Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.

This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued its Fiscal Year 2016 Enforcement and Litigation Data.  Those of you who joined us at our New Jersey Office for the Labor & Employment Year In Review Seminar may recall we shared a preview of these statistics, based on preliminary data the EEOC had published at that time.  We now have the benefit of the EEOC’s exhaustive reports, including detailed data released for the first time relating to LGBT charges.

The data and information is available in full for your review on the EEOC website here.

In summary, while 2016 saw an increase in the total number of charges filed (91,503), this was only slightly higher than the total charges filed in 2015 (89,385) and 2014 (88,778), and did not return to the numbers seen in 2010-2012, which were in excess of 99,000 each year.  Nevertheless, this latest increase may signal a renewed trend toward increased filings.  Another notable statistic is the number of retaliation charges filed with the EEOC which, in FY16, peaked at 42,018 and constituted 45.9% of all charges filed.  The number of retaliation charges has essentially doubled in the past 10 years, with only 22,555 filed in 2006.  These numbers illustrate well the continuing risk of exposure for employers who are responsible for  properly handling employee complaints of discrimination, as well as monitoring post-complaint conduct in the workplace.

The new LGBT-related statistics reflect a consistent increase in charges since FY2013, when the EEOC began tracking data in this area.  Each year, the number of charges has grown, from 808 total charges filed in the last 3 quarters of 2013 to 1,768 filed in FY2016.  Along with that increase, the EEOC reported an increase in its monetary recoveries for the employees filing such charges, reaching $4.4 million in FY2016.

The Litigation Statistics reflect that the total number of lawsuits filed by the EEOC in FY16 is down significantly, to 114, which includes 86 merit lawsuits.  The number of suits filed has drifted downward in the last 10 years when, in 2006, the EEOC had filed 403 lawsuits.  However, the EEOC reports that it resolved 139 lawsuits in FY2016.  In addition, the EEOC reports that 28.6% of its active case docket involves systemic discrimination allegations and 19% consists of “multi-victim” cases, which would be consistent with the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

These charge and litigation data and statistics, released annually, serve to inform employers of growing risks in the workplace and the importance of taking all necessary steps to enforce compliance at all levels of their businesses.  The need to maintain and enforce appropriate workplace policies and to be sure that all employees, especially managers and supervisors, are trained on those policies, remains of paramount importance.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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