Retaliation was far and away the most frequently cited claim in charges filed with the EEOC in 2020, followed distantly by disability, race and sex in that order in a close scrum. Retaliation stood at 55.8% of all charges filed. Here the numbers in descending order of frequency:
- Retaliation: 37,632 (55.8 percent of all charges filed)
- Disability: 24,324 (36.1 percent)
- Race: 22,064 (32.7 percent)
- Sex: 21,398 (31.7 percent)
- Age: 14,183 (21.0 percent)
- National Origin: 6,377 (9.5 percent)
- Color: 3,562 (5.3 percent)
- Religion: 2,404 (3.6 percent)
- Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5 percent)
- Genetic Information: 440 (0.7 percent)
These percentages add up to more than 100% because some charges allege multiple bases.
Not surprisingly, findings of probable cause and plaintiff verdicts also show that fact finders are more likely to be convinced that someone has committed an act of retaliation than an act of discrimination. That is because people are people. We relate to each other in large part through our common experiences and that can sometimes leave large blind spots in understanding another’s motivations. Judges, juries, and even EEOC investigators can miss discrimination staring right at them because they lack the experience that would expose discriminatory patterns. But, everybody knows that human don’t just get mad when they feel they’ve wronged. They get even. Not surprisingly, that common understanding is reflected in the EEOC’s FY 2020 data.