The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced its year-end statistics last week and for the second straight year, the number of filed charges fell. In 2012, the EEOC received 99,412 discrimination charges. These filings represent discrimination claims from individuals, and may included more than one allegation of discrimination.
The agency filed far fewer lawsuits last year as compared with 2011. The 122 cases filed by the EEOC are less than half of the total from 2011’s 261. According to an article from Reuters, some of this decline is a result of the EEOC becoming more cautious in choosing discrimination cases.
They had been criticized and sanctioned by some federal courts for an overly aggressive litigation strategy, where there may have been insufficient evidence to support their charges.
Another element in the decline in case filings is due to the shift to systemic investigations. The EEOC filed 12 systemic lawsuits during the year. The EEOC describes systemic discrimination as, “Systemic discrimination involves a pattern or practice, policy, or class case where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic area.”
These lawsuits target large employers, enabling the agency to have a greater impact on more employees in broad areas, and allow the EEOC to maximize its limited.
Retaliation cases topped the list of specific charges, with 37,836 cases filed, followed by race discrimination at 33,512 and sex discrimination, at 30,356, which included sexual harassment and pregnancy cases.
The EEOC recovered $365.4 million through administrative processes for victims of discrimination, and the EEOC’s legal staff resolved 254 lawsuits, obtaining damages of $44.2 million.
Source: Reuters, “Number of charges at EEOC remains high as case volume falls,” Brendan O’Brien, January 29, 2013