Shortly after publishing its FY2016 budget justification (here) asking for an additional $8.6 million and authorization to hire hundreds of additional employees (over FY2014 levels), the EEOC released its FY2014 charge and litigation statistics (here and here). Charge receipts, while still historically high, fell to 88,778, down from a high of 99,922 in FY 2010 at the height of the last recession. The EEOC’s rate of finding reasonable cause was down, as was its effectiveness in successfully conciliating those charges. Indeed, the monetary benefits secured through its investigations plummeted by over $75 million, or roughly 20%. The EEOC’s litigation program filed 133 merits suits, down roughly 50% from FY2011 and down 65% over FY2005 levels. In addition, the litigation program secured only $22.5 million for alleged victims of discrimination, down from a high of $168.6 million in FY2004.
A more in depth look at the numbers is below.
The EEOC’s Private Sector Investigations Program
Retaliation claims remain the number one allegation in EEOC charges with 37,955 (42.8%). Race, sex, and disability discriminations charges were the top three alleged substantive violations. Claims under the Equal Pay Act and the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act were the least alleged violations.
On a state-by-state basis, Texas, Florida, and California led the way with 8,035, 7,528, and 6,363 charges, respectively. Wake Island was the only U.S. Territory without an EEOC charge on file.
The EEOC resolved 87,442 charges under investigation in FY2014. The agency only found reasonable cause in 2,745 (3.1%) cases. Between FY2010 and FY2013, the EEOC made reasonable cause determinations ranging from 3,515 and 4,981 cases annually, which represented 3.6% to 4.7% of its charges filed.
By statute, the EEOC must attempt to conciliate all of its reasonable cause findings before initiating litigation. In FY2014, the EEOC reported that it successfully conciliated 1,031 of its reasonable cause findings. This represents a significant drop from FY2012 and FY2013, when the EEOC successfully conciliated 1,437 and 1,591 cases, respectfully.
On the whole, the EEOC’s private sector investigation program secured $296.1M for alleged victims of discrimination, down from $372.1M in FY2013 and approximately $365M in both FY2011 and FY2012.
The EEOC’s Litigation Program
The EEOC filed 133 merits cases in FY2013. While on par with the most recent two fiscal years, this represents a decrease in filings of roughly 50% compared to FY2011 and over 65% compared to FY2005. The EEOC filed 76 Title VII suits, 49 ADA suits, 12 ADEA suits, 2 Equal Pay suits, 2 GINA suits and 7 suits alleging violations of multiple statutes.
The EEOC’s litigation program secured $22.5 million in monetary benefits for alleged victims of discrimination, down from $38.6 million in FY2013, $91 million in FY2011, and a high of $168.6 million in FY2005.
Implications For Employers
At a time when the EEOC was seeking an expanded budget, as it has in each of the years during the current Administration (here), the EEOC’s performance and recoveries for alleged victims of discriminations were something of a fizzle in FY2014 when compared to its historical results. With focus on systemic litigation, it appears as that other potentially meritorious claims have received less, if any, attention. While the President’s request for additional funds is dead on arrival for lack of even Democratic support, it remains to be seen what, if any, increase in appropriated funds will make its way to the EEOC for FY2016. Regardless, the EEOC is likely feeling significant pressure to post big wins with its budget on the line. Employers take note: this may translate to even more aggressive agency enforcement tactics.
Readers can also find this post on our Workplace Class Action blog here.