The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) yesterday released detailed breakdowns for the 67,448 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The agency secured $439.2 million for victims of discrimination in the private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation. The comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2020, which ended on Sept. 30, 2020, are posted on the agency's website, which also includes detailed breakdowns of charges by state.
EEOC resolved 70,804 charges in FY 2020 and increased its merit factor resolution rate to 17.4 percent from 15.6 percent the prior year. Merit resolutions refers to charges that are resolved in the agency's administrative process (pre-litigation) in favor of the individual who filed the charge. The agency responded to over 470,000 calls to its toll-free number and more than 187,000 inquiries in field offices, including 122,775 inquiries through the online intake and appointment scheduling system, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC's services. The agency also reduced its inventory of pending charges by 3.7 percent.
“EEOC advances opportunity for all of our nation's workers and plays a critical role in ensuring justice in the American workplace,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Despite an incredibly challenging year, the EEOC's dedicated workforce advanced the agency's mission to fight employment discrimination on all fronts.”
The FY 2020 data show that retaliation remained the most frequently cited claim in charges filed with the agency—accounting for a staggering 55.8 percent of all charges filed—followed by disability, race and sex. Specifically, the charge numbers show the following categories of discrimination, in descending order of frequency:
Retaliation: 37,632 (55.8 percent of all charges filed)
Disability: 24,324 (36.1 percent)
Race: 22,064 (32.7 percent)
Sex: 21,398 (31.7 percent)
Age: 14,183 (21.0 percent)
National Origin: 6,377 (9.5 percent)
Color: 3,562 (5.3 percent)
Religion: 2,404 (3.6 percent)
Equal Pay Act: 980 (1.5 percent)
Genetic Information: 440 (0.7 percent)
These percentages add up to more than 100% because some charges allege multiple bases.
Chair Burrows pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession has made life more difficult for America's workers in many ways.
“The current pandemic is not only a public health crisis and an economic crisis—it's also a civil rights crisis,” Burrows said. “COVID-19 and its economic fallout is disproportionately impacting people of color, women, older workers, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable workers, and that impact has serious implications in the workplace.”
Burrows added, “EEOC's role is more critical now than ever when so many workers are overwhelmed with basic survival. The EEOC will continue to do what it always has – meet new challenges and overcome new obstacles to serve the American people.”
EEOC legal staff resolved 165 merits lawsuits and filed 93 lawsuits alleging discrimination in FY 2020. EEOC recovered just over $106 million for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals through litigation, representing the largest recovery through the EEOC's litigation program in the past 16 years. The EEOC achieved a successful outcome in 95.8 percent of all district court resolutions.
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