Employment discrimination complaints against private sector employers reached an all-time high in the most recent fiscal year, federal regulators said this week.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said it received a record 99,947 charges of employment discrimination and obtained $455.6 million in relief through its administrative program and litigation in fiscal year 2011.
The commission said it resolved more charges than it took in with 112,499 resolutions (7,500 more resolutions than FY 2010—an increase of 7 percent)—leaving 78,136 pending charges, a 10 percent decrease in its inventory, the first year the agency has seen a reduction since 2002.
EEOC said its FY 2011 data also show:
- In both the private and federal sectors, 5.4 million individuals benefited from changes in employment policies or practices in their workplace during the past fiscal year.
- The EEOC obtained a record $455.6 million in relief for private sector, state, and local employees and applicants, a more than $51 million increase from the past fiscal year and continuing the upward trend of the past three fiscal years.
- The mediation program reached record levels, both in the number of resolutions – 9,831 – which is 5 percent more than in FY 2010 (9,362), and benefits — $170,053,021– $28 million more than FY 2010.
- The EEOC filed 300 lawsuits and its litigation efforts resulted in $91 million of relief, representing the third year in a row that the relief obtained was greater than in the preceding year. Twenty-three of the lawsuits filed involved systemic allegations involving large numbers of people and an additional 67 had multiple victims (less than 20).
“For the second year in a row, the EEOC received a record number of new charges of discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien.
The total number of charges received was up slightly from last fiscal year’s record total. Once again, charges alleging retaliation under all the statutes the EEOC enforces were the most numerous at 37,334 charges received, or 37.4 percent of all charges, closely followed by charges involving claims of race discrimination at 35,395 charges or 35.4 percent.
While the numbers of charges with race and sex discrimination allegations declined from the previous year, charges with the two other most frequently-cited allegations increased:
- Disability discrimination–25,742
- Age discrimination—23,465
The agency’s enforcement of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) produced the highest increase in monetary relief among all of the statutes: the administrative relief obtained for disability discrimination charges increased by almost 35.9 percent to $103.4 million compared to $76.1 million in the previous fiscal year. Back impairments were the most frequently cited impairment under the ADA, followed by other orthopedic impairments, depression, anxiety disorder and diabetes.
For the first full fiscal year of enforcement, the EEOC received 245 charges under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, including family medical history. So far, none of these charges has proceeded to litigation.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
The fiscal year 2011 enforcement and litigation statistics, which include trend data, are available on the EEOC’s website here.