EEOC 2020: Fewer Charges, Lawsuits—but Increased Recovery

Employment Law


What was the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) up to in fiscal year 2020?

According to statistics released by the agency, it received a total of 67,448 charges of workplace discrimination—the lowest number since 1997—while securing $439.2 million through voluntary resolutions and litigation.

The EEOC responded to more than 470,000 calls to its toll-free number and north of 187,000 field office inquiries in FY 2020, including 122,775 inquiries through the online intake system.

During the same time period, the agency resolved 70,804 charges of workplace discrimination, reducing its inventory of pending charges by 3.7 percent and bumping its merit factor resolution rate up to 17.4 percent.

Retaliation remained the most frequent claim in charges filed with the EEOC (with 55.8 percent of all charges filed), followed by disability (36.1 percent), race (32.7 percent), sex (31.7 percent) and age (21 percent). National origin, color, religion, Equal Pay Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act claims rounded out the list.

In terms of litigation, the agency filed 93 lawsuits alleging discrimination. The most common claim was discrimination based on sex (37 cases), followed by disability (29), retaliation (26), race (13), age (7), religion (5) and national origin (4). Of the 93 lawsuits, 69 were filed on behalf of individuals, 12 involved multiple victims in non-systemic suits and the remaining 13 were complaints with systemic allegations.

The EEOC resolved 165 merits lawsuits in FY 2020, recovering over $106 million for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals through litigation. This total represents the largest recovery through the agency’s litigation program in the past 16 years and more than doubled the $39.1 million recovered in FY 2019.

The majority of the litigation—roughly 70 percent—involved Title VII claims (with $72.6 million of the total recovery), with the remainder paid out on claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Approximately 25,925 individuals were recipients of monetary relief as a result of the 165 lawsuits, the EEOC said.

Other financial recoveries came through mediation. Of the 9,036 mediations that were conducted, 6,272 resulted in more than $156.6 million in benefits to charging parties (a slight decrease from FY 2019). Conciliation success increased to 64 percent, the EEOC said, up from 56 percent in FY 2019 and 46 percent in FY 2018.

To read the EEOC’s detailed statistics, click here.

Why it matters: The EEOC’s FY 2020 statistics provide employers with a window into the agency’s enforcement efforts, as well as a peek at possible trends in the types of charges filed by employees.

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