U.S. Employment Discrimination Settlements, Cases Down from Last Year

November 19, 2014

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says it “fought hard to overcome extraordinary fiscal constraints and operational challenges” during the 2014 fiscal year because of sequestration and the government shutdown.

Yet the agency, which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, says it “met, partially met, or exceeded target results” in its strategic plan for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The EEOC reported that its enforcement actions secured $296.1 million in monetary relief for victims of employment discrimination in private sector and state and local government workplaces.

That total was down from FY 2013 when EEOC reported it obtained a record $372.1 million in monetary relief.

The EEOC also secured $22.5 million in monetary relief for complainants through litigation, and $74 million in monetary relief for federal employees and applicants.

The agency received 88,778 private sector charges in FY 2014, a decrease of about 5,000 from FY 2013. In addition, a total of 87,442 charges were resolved, 9,810 fewer than in FY 2013, which the agency said “is likely due to the government shutdown and the effects of sequestration.”

EEOC said its mediation program for private sector charges secured 7,846 mediated resolutions out of 10,221 conducted. The agency obtained $144.6 million in benefits for individuals through mediations.

EEOC filed 133 merits lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs during FY 2014— almost the same number as last year. This year’s included 105 individual suits, 11 non-systemic class suits, and 17 systemic suits. Legal staff resolved 136 of these merits lawsuits for a total recovery of $22.5 million. At the end of the fiscal year, the EEOC had 228 cases on its active docket.

The agency continues to build a enforcement program for what it sees as systemic discrimination, which it defines a discrimination that “involves a pattern or practice, policy, or class case where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic area.”

During the fiscal year, the agency completed 260 systemic investigations, resulting in 78 settlements and conciliation agreements securing approximately $13 million in monetary relief. Systemic lawsuits comprised 13 percent of all merits suit filings, and by the end of the year, represented 25 percent of all active merits suits, the largest proportion of systemic suits on EEOC’s active docket since tracking began in FY 2006.

EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang said increased hiring at the end of FY 2014 and investments in technology have helped. While a hiring freeze and attrition shrunk the number of agency staff between FY 2012 and FY 2013, the agency hired more than 300 staff at the end of FY 2014.

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