Report accuses EEOC of botching cases

A report by a senator accuses the EEOC of failing to properly investigate allegations of discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is a federal agency in charge of enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against employees due to race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, color or genetic information. However, according to a Republican senator this agency is failing employees.

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee released a 23 page report outlining allegations of the agency's abuses. The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on the report, noting one of the focuses of the allegations is whether or not the EEOC was properly conciliating disputes prior to moving forward with lawsuits. According to the report, the EEOC has only reviewed five cases prior to moving forward with a lawsuit in 2010, seven in 2011 and three in 2012. These numbers are striking in comparison to the number of suits that the agency moved forward with: 250 in 2010, 261 in 2011 and 122 in 2012.

More on the EEOC

The EEOC has the authority to investigate allegations of discrimination and assess whether or not the allegations have merit. If the allegations are supported, the Commission is charged with first attempting conciliation or other informal methods of resolution. When these methods are not successful, the agency can move forward with litigation.

In cases involving federal employees, litigation is generally pursued for allegations of age discrimination or equal pay violations. The Commission also conducts administrative hearings and issues appellate decisions on allegations of discrimination by federal employees against federal employers.

EEOC statistics

Not every charge of discrimination moves forward into conciliation or litigation. The EEOC reports that there were 9,068 total charges of discrimination in Texas alone during 2014. Texas had the highest number of charges, with Florida in second with 7,597. 3,167 of the charges in Texas were linked to allegations of racial discrimination, 2,849 due to sex discrimination and 1,388 for discrimination based on national origin.

Importance of conciliation

In the event that the EEOC's investigation provides enough evidence to support "reasonable cause" that the alleged discrimination occurred, the EEOC can pursue various options for resolution. Conciliation is one option. The process is voluntary and offers an opportunity to avoid litigation. This alternative is a negotiation that offers both parties an opportunity to resolve the conflict informally.

Conciliation and litigation are just two paths towards resolution that may be taken during an EEOC case. The process can be arduous, and those who are victims of discrimination are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced employment discrimination lawyer to help better ensure their rights are protected.

Keywords: discrimination