The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued a press release discussing the data concerning workplace discrimination claims filed with that agency during the fiscal year 2012 (which runs October 1 – September 30).
According to the EEOC, it received 99,412 private sector workplace discrimination charges during fiscal year 2012, and the agency also obtained more than $365 million worth of monetary recoveries on behalf of discrimination-claimants. While the number of charges was slightly from fiscal year 2011, the EEOC’s $365.4 million in monetary recover is the largest amount ever from private sector and state and local government employers. The most frequent type of discrimination claim was race discrimination, of which there were 33,512 filings or 33.7%. Ranking third in the number of filings were claims of sex discrimination, which include sexual harassment and pregnancy allegations. There were 30,356 of such sex discrimination claims, or of 30.5% of all claims, filed in 2012. Disability and national origin discrimination claims were the next most common claims, totaling 26,379 (26.5%) and 22,857 (23%). Rounding out the list, with filings considerable lower frequency were claims of national origin, religion, and color, accounting for 10,883 (10.9%),3,811 (3.8%), and 2,662 (2.7%), respectively, of claims filed in 2012.
Separate and apart from these administrative charges, in fiscal year 2012 the EEOC filed one hundred twenty-two (122) lawsuits, including 86 individual suits, 26 multiple-victim suits (with fewer than 20 victims) and 10 systemic suits. The legal department at the EEOC resolved 254 lawsuits, recovering more than $44.2 million in monetary relief. The EEOC also completed 240 systemic investigations in fiscal year 2012. Of those 240 investigations, 46 ended without litigation, resolved through settlements or conciliation agreements which totaled $36.2 million dollars for the victims.
In an effort to be more transparent, the EEOC for the first time released a new table disclosing the type of adverse employment action alleged to be discriminatory. In fiscal year 2012, discharge was the most frequently-cited discriminatory action under all statutes, followed by changes in “terms and conditions” of employment, and then discipline. Overall, the EEOC secured benefits for more than 23,446 people through its administrative enforcement activities – mediation, settlements, conciliations, and withdrawals with benefits.
Notably, the most frequently filed claims in 2012 were claims of retaliation, totaling 37,386, or 38.1% of all claims filed in a charge of discrimination. In fact, according to EEOC statistics, the number of retaliation claims filed with that agency has been on the rise for some time. The number of retaliation claims filed with the EEOC has almost doubled since 1997. As of 2012, retaliation claims now exceed all other unlawful discrimination claims. The number of retaliation is not that surprising. Anecdotally speaking, it is not uncommon for employee-plaintiff to lose a discrimination claim, but succeed in his or her relation claim. This is significant to employers because an employee who succeeds in a retaliation claim is entitled to the same significant statutory damages as a successful discrimination plaintiff, i.e. emotional distress, reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.