The #MeToo movement and national attention to sexual harassment issues made 2018 a big year for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. So why are their charge numbers down? Find out why changes at the EEOC may lead more employees to use private lawsuits to get the recovery they deserve.
This blog post will review the 2018 enforcement and litigation statistics recently released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I will compare FY2018 to prior years and discuss options for employees who find their interests are not fully represented in the EEOC complaint process.
On April 10, 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its 2018 enforcement and litigation statistics for workplace discrimination of all kinds. The EEOC tracks all its complaints and charges by year, state, and type of misconduct. Here are the highlights of last year’s data.
In FY2018, which ended on September 30, 2018, the EEOC received 519,000 calls, 34,600 emails, and 200,000 in-person inquiries from members of the public. These resulted in 76,418 total charges. More than half (51% ) of those charges included claims of retaliation.
The #MeToo movement made its mark as well. In 2018, the EEOC received 7,609 sexual harassment charges, which was a 13.6% increase over FY2017. The agency also received 24,655 sex discrimination charges (32.3% of all charges) and an additional 1,066 Equal Pay Act charges. Other claims included:
(Percentages add up to more than 100% because some charges included more than one type of violation.) All together, the EEOC secured $505 million in damages for employees of private employers, state and local government offices, and federal workplaces.
As large as those numbers seem, they actually represent a significant reduction in case load at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While EEOC employees opened over 76,000 charges, they closed 90,558 charges of discrimination, either through informal facilitation, settlement or case resolution. In total, the agency reduced its workload by 19.5% over the course of the year.
EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic sees this as a point of pride. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s press release on the data included her statement:
“The EEOC had a remarkable year working on behalf of those who came to the agency having experienced discrimination in their workplaces. . . . The statistics reflect the agency’s successes in taking advantage of new strategies to bring about the lowest inventory of private sector charges in a dozen years.”
She touted the agency as operating in a more efficient manner, and being more sharply focused on “meritorious charges and those that advance the public interest”. That also means the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is doing less for the employees who contact them with harassment and discrimination claims. They are filing fewer lawsuits and turning more employees away by issuing Notices of Right to Sue.
With the EEOC tightening its belt, many private employees will end up looking elsewhere for help enforcing their rights under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and other anti-discrimination statutes. For workers whose circumstances don’t fall within the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s top priorities, the reduction in workload will mean they will need to file private employment discrimination lawsuits to get the damages and injunctive relief they need and deserve.
At Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, we know how to make the most of the EEOC process. We can help you prepare your charge, and gather your evidence, so you can make the most of your sexual harassment or gender discrimination claim. Whether you are preparing for a formal hearing or have been sent a Notice of Right to Sue, our employment discrimination lawyers will review your case and help you prepare a strategy to get the relief you need. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation and get your case started.