The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its comprehensive report on the workplace discrimination claims it received in Fiscal Year 2020. The Enforcement and Litigation Statistics provide detailed breakdowns of charges of employment discrimination and resolutions under a variety of statutes. Here are the highlights:
Total Charges Filed
The EEOC’s FY 2020 ended on September 30, 2020, and the total number of workplace discrimination charges filed with the EEOC dropped to 67,448. This was to be expected with the number of workplaces that shut down in 2020. Also, the increase in remote work in 2020 reduced the prospect of inappropriate interaction among employees. It was somewhat surprising that the total number of charges only dropped by 7% compared to FY 2019. Nearly every measure of labor-statistics showed a decrease of at least 10%-15% in workforce participation.
Total Dollars Recovered
The EEOC recovered $106 million in FY 2020 through litigation. This exceeded the total litigation recovery in 2018 and 2019 combined. The previous 10-year average was approximately $53M/year. The $106M was the largest amount recovered by the EEOC since 2004. Again, this was somewhat surprising based upon the limitations on the legal system and the conservative administration in place. Outside of litigation, the FY 2020 monetary benefit recovered by the EEOC was $333.2 million. The total recovery of $439 million was the most in the past 20+ years.
Claims of Interest
For the 18th year in a row, Retaliation claims continued to increase. Retaliation remains the most common type of charge filed with the EEOC. In FY 2020, Retaliation was part of 55.8% of all charges filed, an increase from 53.8%. If nothing else, this stresses the importance for all employers to educate their supervisors, managers, and employees on the strict prohibition against retaliatory conduct.
Disability Discrimination was the second most common claim, with 36.1% of all charges filed, an increase from 33.4%. This is likely due to the expansion of the definitions of a disability and the requirements on employers to engage in an interactive accommodation process.
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) claims increased by 110%, although they still make up around 1% of the total charges. This law is still in its relative infancy but may see another increase surrounding vaccination issues.
All other claims remained largely consistent. Race Discrimination modestly dropped to 32.7% of the charges from 33% in 2019. Although Color Discrimination increased to 5.3% of total charges from 4.7%. Sex Discrimination accounted for 31.7% of claims. Age Discrimination was included in 21% of claims. National Origin claims were approximately 9.5%. Religious Discrimination accounted for 3.6% of charges.
In evaluating claims, the percentages will always add up to more than 100% because some/most charges allege multiple types of discrimination.
It is important for employers to evaluate the types of charges as they create policies and educate their workforces. Too often, employers will focus only on sexual harassment training and policies and/or may include some discrimination training, but will overlook age discrimination, when those claims account for over 20% of the risk. The $439M recovered by the EEOC does not include any of the other litigation, arbitrations, informal resolutions, and severance packages that employers face in claims of discrimination and retaliation.
Obviously, the most significant risk to employers is a Retaliation claim. It accounts for the greatest number of claims, and results in the highest amount of damages and penalties.
For additional information or to evaluate trainings, policies, and other risk mitigation measures, please contact Labor + Employment Law Member Jeffrey C. Miller, email@example.com or any member of the BMD Labor + Employment Team.