The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported it obtained a record $372.1 million in monetary relief for victims of private sector workplace discrimination in FY 2013. This is $6.7 million more than was recovered last year, and the highest level obtained in the commission’s history.
Overall, the agency, which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, secured both monetary and non-monetary benefits in fiscal year (FY) 2013 for more than 70,522 people through administrative enforcement activities including mediation, settlements and conciliations, according to its 2013 report.
The EEOC also obtained more than $160.9 million in monetary benefits for complainants through mediation resolutions, which was the second highest level in the agency’s mediation program’s history.
“The EEOC’s accomplishments are especially noteworthy in light of the extraordinary fiscal constraints and operational challenges in FY 2013,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
The agency said it faced the challenges of budget cuts sue to sequestration and declining staffing during FY 2013, which ended Sept. 30. As a result of sequestration, the EEOC said it furloughed its entire workforce for 40 hours, froze hiring, and reduced its budget for litigation, information technology, travel and contracts for services.
The EEOC received a total of 93,727 private sector charges of discrimination in FY 2013, a 6,000 decrease from the prior three fiscal years. In addition, a total of 97,252 charges were resolved, nearly 14,000 fewer than in FY 2012, which the agency said was likely due to the decline in staffing and resources. At the end of the fiscal year, the pending inventory stood at 70,781.
The average time for the enforcement staff to investigate and bring charges to resolution was reduced by 21 days to 267 days in 2013.
EEOC said it filed 131 merits lawsuits during FY 2013. These included 89 individual suits, 21 non-systemic class suits, and 21 systemic suits. Legal staff resolved 209 merits lawsuits for a total monetary recover of $39 million. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 231 cases on its active docket, of which 46 were non-systemic class cases, and 54 involved challenges to systemic discrimination.
In FY 2013, the EEOC’s private sector national mediation program conducted 11,513 mediations and secured 8,890 mediated resolutions.