EEOC Releases FY 2013 Enforcement And Litigation Data: Employers Take Heed

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just released its fiscal year (FY) 2013 enforcement and litigation statistical report. Presented annually, the report is always a treasure trove of information for employers and employment attorneys, and this year’s is no exception. Among the FY 2013 highlights are the following statistics:

  • The EEOC received 93,727 charges in FY 2013—a 5 percent reduction from FY 2012.
  • For the fifth year in a row, retaliation-based charges were the most common (appearing in 41.1 percent of charges)—a 3 percent increase over FY 2012. Race discrimination, sex discrimination, and disability discrimination charges rounded out the top 4 in terms of prevalence, although sex discrimination charges decreased by over 2,600 charges.
  • The overall percentage of “reasonable cause” findings (an initial finding in favor of the employee) dipped slightly in FY 2013 (from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent). Charges brought under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) (8.8 percent) and sexual harassment charges (7.6 percent) proved the most likely to result in a cause finding, while race-based charges (2.8 percent) and charges brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act  (ADEA) (2.4 percent) were the least likely to result in a cause finding.
  • On a state-by-state basis, Texas employers continued to face more EEOC charges than all others with 9,068 charges, which accounted for 9.7 percent of all charges filed in the nation. Employers in Florida, with 7,597 charges, California, with 6,892 charges, and Georgia, with 5,162 charges, rounded out the top four for the second year in a row. On the other end of the spectrum, 11 states had fewer than 100 charges filed in FY 2013:
  • Montana (18)
  • Vermont (31)
  • Maine (34)
  • New Hampshire (52)
  • Rhode Island (62)
  • South Dakota (62)
  • Wyoming (65)
  • North Dakota (71)
  • Nebraska (77)
  • Idaho (77)
  • Alaska (98)
  • Despite the decline in total charges filed, claimants recovered a record $372 million through the EEOC administrative process—an increase of $6.7 million from FY 2012.
  • The EEOC filed 131 merits lawsuits, with the vast majority asserting claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (78 suits) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (51 suits). The EEOC also filed its first three suits asserting GINA claims in FY2013.
  • The EEOC only resolved 222 lawsuits, receiving $38.6 million in monetary benefits. Those numbers are the lowest they have been in over 15 years. The EEOC attributes these decreases to sequestrations, which affected its budget and staffing.

Prudent employers will use the EEOC’s FY 2013 data to take proactive steps to reduce the number of charges going forward. Short of moving shop from Texas to Montana, at a minimum, employers should provide sufficient training on retaliation as the prevalence of those charges continues to increase. Periodic, comprehensive sexual harassment training remains a must, particularly as those charges continue to be among the most difficult to dismiss. Employers in states with greater EEOC activity may want to proceed with more caution.

Employers should also compare their own statistics to the EEOC’s data, both on a regional and national basis. Employers that find that their results are dramatically different in one or more locales, or for one or more charge types, might want to try enhanced training or targeted personnel actions to remedy the problem.

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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