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June 6, 2012

EEOC and the Numbers

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

“EEOC Receives Record Amount of Charges / Damages in 2011″.  If this seems like a repeat headline from 2010, you are correct.  In the past, the only people who probably knew much about EEOC were us human resource folks.  However, the leading story on the nightly news or the headline story for the AP is often the latest EEOC case.

As reported in Olivia’s blog on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, the EEOC has the responsibility of enforcing federal laws against discrimination.  Based on the numbers, we apparently aren’t doing a very good job of self-enforcement.  For the third year in a row, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a record number of discrimination and retaliation charges. The fiscal year 2011 (ending September 30, 2011) closed with a total of 99,947 charges, up slightly from two prior years of record charges (FY 2010: 99,922; FY 2009: 93,277).  The EEOC reports that during the past year it recovered more than $455 million for claimants, up from $319 million in 2010. The most filed claims, in order, were:

    • Retaliation
    • Race
    • Sex discrimination / harassment
    • Disability
    • Age

Retaliation claims are now the most filed claim with the EEOC, accounting for 37% of all private sector charges. Considering that fiscal year 2011 was the third year in a row that the EEOC received a record number of new charges of discrimination, it is unlikely that we will see the number of charges decrease significantly in the upcoming year.

It is obvious that EEOC enforcement has a more aggressive posture. The FY 2013 EEOC budget proposal increases EEOC’s budget by $14M. With retaliation taking center stage, the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued three new Fact Sheets regarding retaliation under the FLSA, FMLA, and Migrant and Seasonal Ag. Worker Protection Act: click here to access these fact sheets.

Whether the increased numbers are due to increased enforcement by the EEOC or lack of adherence to federal discrimination policies, the results are disappointing.  Compliance should be second nature.  I, for one, am hoping the trend turns the other direction resulting in fewer cases and workplaces free of discrimination issues.

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