Fewer EEOC Charges in 2014, But More Systemic Cases

EEOCThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released its Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2014. During that period, the EEOC received 88,778 private-sector discrimination charges. This number represents the lowest number of charges received since fiscal year 2007, and ends a six-year streak where the EEOC received at least 93,000 charges annually.

The EEOC obtained $296.1 million in monetary relief for victims of alleged discrimination, down from $372.1 million recovered in fiscal year 2013.

The EEOC filed 133 lawsuits, including 17 cases alleging systemic discrimination. This continues the trend of the EEOC filing fewer lawsuits, but more systemic discrimination claims. Systemic cases are those where employment policies or practices broadly affect a geographic region, industry, or an entire class of employees or applicants. The EEOC also completed 260 systemic case investigations, resulting in 78 settlements and conciliation agreements amounting to $13 million. Systemic cases now make up about one-quarter of EEOC’s case filings.

The EEOC’s backlog of charges rose from 70,781 to 75,935 pending charges during fiscal year 2014. After reducing the backlog in 2011 and 2012, it has crept up in 2013 and 2014. The EEOC attributes this increase to the federal government shutdown, sequestration, and a decrease in agency personnel. Hiring freezes in 2012 and 2013 were lifted and the agency has hired more than 300 staff in 2014.

If you receive notice that a current or former employee or job applicant has filed a charge of discrimination against your organization, contact an MSEC attorney who can assist you in strategizing and preparing your response.