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2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

Client Alert

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. 

Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other.  In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin.  For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years. 

Interestingly, the total Monetary Benefits recovered through voluntary resolution of claims was over $350 million for the complainants of workplace discrimination.  This was the 7th highest total recovery on record over the previous 25 years.  This number was somewhat surprising because the agency only resolved about 62,000 total cases in 2021.  Again, for reference, in 2013, the agency collected record Monetary Benefits of $372 million, but that was for the resolution of over 97,000 claims.

What does this mean for employers?  It’s fairly simple.  While the total number of claims has been decreasing, the total cost of claims is steeply rising. 

What is the cause of the increase of cost of claims?  Again, it seems fairly simple.  Retaliation remains the most common type of charge filed with the EEOC.  Retaliation claims account for over 56% of the total charges filed, and are ordinarily the most expensive claims for employers. 

Why are retaliation charges problematic?  As we have cautioned employers, retaliation claims are problematic because they include claims of deliberate, targeted unlawful conduct in response to the claimant’s participation in a protected activity.  It is difficult to explain away or prove a legitimate business justification for targeted mistreatment of an employee who raised an internal complaint, gave a witness statement, or did something else to invoke the retaliation protection. 

What can employers do to minimize the risk?  To minimize the risk of retaliation claims employers can implement several baseline steps:

  • Make sure you have an effective avenue for employees to report employment complaints, including any threats of retaliation. We recommend a third-party anonymous hotline.
  • Once a complaint is received, begin the investigation immediately, fairly, and professionally.
  • As part of the investigation, specifically remind everyone involved that retaliation is strictly prohibited!
  • As part of your overall foundation, make sure all employees are trained and reminded that retaliation will not be tolerated and is grounds for immediate termination. This is accomplished through updated policies that are signed by employees and regular training.
  • Train employees on civility and respect in the workplace. These training events by third-party professionals have shown added benefits at minimizing not only the underlying bad acts, but also at preventing subsequent retaliation. 

With a proper foundation of workplace preventative measures, employers can minimize their risk of EEOC charges and high-leverage claims.  For further information, please reach out to Jeffrey C. Miller, jcmiller@bmdllc.com, or any member of the BMD L+E team.


Valley National Bank/Trulieve Loan: A Big Step Out of the Shadows

In a late December press release, Trulieve announced that it had secured a $71.5 million commercial bank loan. In addition to the amount of the loan, which may be the largest commercial bank loan to date to a cannabis company, the release prominently identified Valley Bank and featured both a quote from Valley’s Senior Vice President, John Myers, and a description of the Bank’s service platform and commitment to the cannabis industry.

The End of Non-Competes? The Impact It Will Have on the Healthcare Industry

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a proposed rule that, if enacted, will ban employers from entering into non-compete clauses with workers (the “Rule”), and the Rule would void existing non-compete agreements. In their Notice, the FTC stated that if the Rule were to go into effect, they estimate the overall earnings of employees in the United States could increase by $250 billion to $296 billion per year. The Rule would also require employers to rescind non-competes that they had already entered into with their workers. For purposes of the Rule, the FTC has defined “worker” to also include any employees, interns, volunteers, and contractors.”

2022 Healthcare Recap and 2023 Healthcare Check-Up

As the country begins to return to a new “normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many healthcare rules changing on both the federal and state levels as a result. Thus, it is important for healthcare providers and their employers to be aware of these changing rules, and any implications they may have on their practice. Look back on healthcare in 2022 and find a checklist for 2023.

Direct Support Professional Retention Payments

On December 15, the Ohio Senate and House passed House Bill 45, which authorizes the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), in conjunction with the county boards of developmental disabilities, to launch their initiative to issue retention payments to Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). These retention payments will be distributed quarterly to participating home and community-based waiver providers to address the workforce crisis in the direct provider sector. Governor DeWine needs to sign the Bill to begin the payments, but he is expected to do so by the end of 2022.

Real Estate Investors Position for 2023 Opportunities

Real estate investors weathered another year in a post-pandemic world, with the year closing with yet another interest rate increase coupled with both uncertainty and heightened interest carrying into 2023. Just last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate 0.50 percentage points, shifting the target range to 4.25% to 4.50%. The new level is the highest the fed funds rate has been since December 2007 and marks the seventh rate hike this year. So what does this mean to investors, brokers, lenders, and others in the real estate world? Read a few perspectives below from stakeholders familiar with our BMD clients and the markets in which they do business.